07 May 2009

FCBD 2009...

...or Dear Comic Book Industry I Am Trying to Give You Money part 3

This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. One of my favorite holidays. Last year we went to Cavalier Comics in Wise, VA on FCBD and were treated very well. Brian had most of the books I would have wanted and we were fee to take at least one of each. It was good times.

This year we headed in the opposite direction up Route 58 and went to two comic shops. I won't mention the name of the first shop because it's not my intention to throw a comics retailer under the bus. We'll just call them comic shop #1. I love comics shops. However, this should be a lesson in now not to run your FCBD event. Or, pretty much now not to run you small business in general. See, the point of FCBD for a retailer should be to attract new customers and build goodwill with your existing customers. I've managed small businesses and the main obstacle was getting customers in the door. Well, FCBD does that for you. Now, if you want those customers to spend money you have to do one of two things. Offer them a product they want or a service they want. But wait! How do you figure out what they want? Well, here is a free retail industry secret for ya. You ask them. "How ya doin'? What can I help you find today?" For thousands of years, good and services have been successfully traded for money thanks to this wonderful technique. At comic shop #1? Not so much.
Comic shop #1 is about a forty five minute drive from my house. I go in with my two daughters, ages seven and two, full of excitement. I was hoping for a couple of free comics I want and to even buy some comics for my daughter. We walk in. We are not greeted. There is a FCBD poster on the door but no table or display. I had visited the FCBD site before our trip so I kind of had an idea on what to look for. I noticed some familiar looking books on their check-out counter. They had just a few books and only one copy of each on the counter. They had the "Gold" level comics which is the bare minimum for participation. Most of what I would want would be in the "Silver" variety, but I'm not one to snub my nose at free comics. We walk up to the counter and the guy does not even look at us. I ask if those are the FCBD comics and the entirety of his communication to us during our visit is , "One per customer." He did not even glance at my daughters. He did not even glance at the future of his customer base that I have been tirelessly training to love comics for his benefit. I grabbed the Savage Dragon book for myself, the Cars book for the two year old and my seven year old picked out the Star Wars book. We quickly left having spent zero dollars.
Kind of a bummer but not to fear. I knew my pal Jeremy Massie was going to be at Mountain Empire Comics over in Bristol, TN. It is about an hour drive from my house but it is the shop where I had my first pull list when I was a kid. It is a great shop and I knew I could at least count on them to have some good stuff for my kids. We get to Mountain Empire and the staff there immediately greets us, asks questions, talks kid talk with my kids. In short, they do what any small business should do with any customer that walks in the door. There was a good vibe in the store and you could feel the comics love and excitement. Jeremy was staying pretty busy talking up his upcoming book and was even interviewed by local news outlet. Jeremy's book is apparently non-fiction because the main character, The Deadbeat was there in the flesh.
Mountain Empire had a much better selection of books and we were free to grab one of each for each of us. They also have a great selection of comics a fellow like me might actually want to pay for and gasp... they had some kids comics for sale! Wow! I spent about fifteen bucks. Jeremy also drew amazing sketches of Kitty Pryde and Dazzler for my seven year old. She loved them. I will post them here as soon as I get a chance to scan them.
All in all it was an awesome visit. Well done Mountian Empire Comics. Well done. To comic shop #1... I still love ya. And I'll drop in whenever I'm on your side of town. See, ya had me at comic books. But if ya want my money...

I've not read through all the stuff I got but I was really happy with the Savage Dragon book. The Love and Capes book was pretty impressive. A great looking book from cover to cover. I was pretty stoked to get a free reprint copy of TMNT #1. I sold off all my Turtle comics years ago so it was pretty cool to re-visit that stuff. The seven year old seemed to really like the DC Kids book. (But not as much as the copy of Supergirl Cosmic Adventures I bought her.)

And now for the shameless pandering part of the post. Unfortunately, we got to Mountain Empire pretty late so I missed out on the main books I wanted. So if anyone has a copy of the Love and Rockets, Nancy or Owly books that they could turn loose of then let me know. I'll trade ya something cool. Thanks!

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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