Finding Your Niche
One of the differences in the comic market today and the one that existed in the 1980's and 1990's is that it is next to impossible to make it on a comic sales alone.  Sure there are some stores that do it, but it is nothing short of suicide to attempt it.  To have a fighting chance, you need to find a niche.  Something that compliments the comics but also draws people into your store.  If you can offer something that no other store in your area does, all the better.  But ask yourself these questions before you attempt to put in a new product line:

Question #1 - Is it a product that there is a demand for?  Ask your customers if they would be interested in it.  Also look at what other stores carry it and how much they sell it for and how big a selection do they carry.

Question #2 - How much of a profit can I make off this?  Check to see what the retail price is and what your price is.  Can you return unsold merchandise or are you stuck with it?  Do you have suppliers who can provide you with more when you sell out?

Question #3 - How much space will it take up and will the sales justify the space?  All mall stores look at sales by square foot.  If you want to be successful you should do the same thing.  Figure out what it costs per square foot.  That is take all your expenses (rent, utilities, insurance, advertising and wages) and then divide it by the amount of square footage of your store and by square footage I mean area where you are selling.  Do not count a basement or storage area.  This will tell you how much money each square foot should be generating.  The more the better.  If a product is not bringing in enough, then you should think about getting rid of it and bringing in something else.

When I was looking into carrying new product lines, one that I chose was Japanimation.  I had a good selection of my own that I could use to start and there were no stores that offered it for rent.  I sat down and figured that it would take about 10 rentals to make a profit off a tape and then the rest was profit.  They also did not take up alot of space.  It was a very successful product line for my store.  The only problem I faced was people not returning them.  This was for the most part fixed with getting a credit card and their information.  But I found that late fees were a very profitable part of renting.  If you made them reasonable, people had no problem paying them. 

Some product lines that I carried that also did well were candy and Magic: The Gathering cards.  I was between two grade schools so candy was an easy sell.  I originally put it in to attract kids to the store in hopes that they would start collecting comics.  I always put a selection of kid friendly comics near the candy.  Stuff like Disney, Harvey, Archies and stuff like that.  It did get some kids collecting but not like I hoped.  But the candy was a big seller and big profit. 

The Magic: The Gathering cards were also a big seller.  I found that there was more money to be made by breaking a few boxes down and selling the individual cards.  That was until they started reprinting the cards.  But I could not find another collectible card game that would sell well. 

Some product lines that did not do well for me were comic t-shirts and action figures.  T-Shirts were slow moving and just a waste.  I tried carrying popular characters, classic designs and even anime t-shirts.  They just were a drain on my money.  Only when I had a big sale to get rid of them, did they finally sell.

Action figures were a pain.  I had a hard time getting them in a timely manner and you quickly found out that people only wanted to buy the rare ones and stick you with the rest.  I had to get creative with the pricing to keep from being stuck with a bunch of figures that would not sell.

Anyway, think about different product lines that will enhance your business and increase your profits.  Do some homework and make sure it makes sense to carry it.  A little work can save you alot of trouble later on.



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Tom Zjaba 1997 - 2015      

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