Kansas City

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mediocrity -- an entrepreneur's opportunity

I know a lot about comic books. I can tell you the exact issue number of the first appearance of Wolverine. I know the name of the guy that created Batman. I know the secret identities of characters you've likely never even heard of. But I don't know anything about running a comic book store. Oh snap.

Where to start? After a bit of brainstorming, I figured it would make sense to face my enemy head on. I've taken the last few days to do what I'm affectionately referring to as "field recon." It looked a little something like this:

Essentially I went into a buttload of local comic book stores, camo face paint intact, and evaluated what they do right, what they do wrong, where improvements could be implemented, and so forth. Have you ever been into a comic book store? Wow. They are so strange. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy that has been into comics since he was 8 years old. I'm not drinking the hatorade. Just keeping it real here.

Allow me to paint the picture for you. The typical comic book store owner is a 40-50ish year old male. He is a nerd. He dresses poorly. He possesses an overtly obvious lack of social skills and speaks very little. He looks as though he may keep a Miracle Whip jar full of his victims' lips in his basement. It literally feels awkward from the moment you walk in the door. Not exactly the type of environment that is conducive to bringing in children, creating excitement about your products, engaging your customers, etc.

Looking around the comic book shop, things are poorly laid out. I can't tell which books are new issues and which are older. T-shirts are all crammed onto a rack, none of which are displayed to the customer. When I asked about his comic book subscription service, there is no incentive for the customer to join. (For the unintiated this is the same concept as having a magazine subscription only you would pick up your pre-selected comics at the store each week.) It's dark and uninviting and homeboy is creepy.

Having been in this guy's store for all of 10 minutes and having zero experience in retail or this industry, I can already list a half dozen things he could be doing to improve his business.

Wow is it easy to excel in this world. Mediocrity--an entrepreneur's opportunity. :)

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