Tried and True Practices of Successful Shops

McNabb Games

First Post
Hello everyone,
I've recently put down my first payment on my very first comic shop and will be setting it up as a comic cafe with weekly gaming tournaments. I've done a fair amount of research and know we have the general interest, a sizable population and no stores of this nature within 100 miles in any direction.
So I've decided to reach out to anyone on here with experience in our industry who have successful practices they would like to share with a new up and coming shop owner. I want to make it a great experience for consumers and employees alike.
Any tricks of the trade that have proven beneficial in any way are welcome here.

Thanks,
John M.
McNabb Games
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Janx

Hero
hire nice people to staff the store.

knowledgeable is good, but if that person trends to the extreme personality end of "comic book guy" with no sales or social skills, you'd be better off hiring sombody who's never read a comic book but great at running the cash register.

That said, hiring somebody with not even a passing knowledge of comic books (or even the movies) who couldn't give a hoot who batman is, will also be a bad hire.

a successful shop like tends to be:
clean
has personable sales staff who aren't overwhelming, pushy or argumentative


I think it's less about tricks, and more about doing the business well that customers will appreciate.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Customer service is king.

Personable staff makes people want to come back. Make sure everyone is greeted at some point.

If you have staff that doesn't know _________, have them inform the customer that they can find out, and they'll get back to them ASAP, if they leave contact info. "No." is a word told to customers only when it is indeed the final option.

Keep your store well-lit, well-stocked and clean. If your bathroom is open to the public, keep it CLEAN.

Properly run product demos can be money makers. This is more true if you can figure out which customers are "first adopters"/risk takers, big spenders, or are held to a high esteem than others in the community.

Don't crowd your aisles. Make sure there is enough room for people to pass slow browsers cofortably. Jostled customers tend not to buy stuff.

"That's not in my job description." is a sentence you shouldn't put up with with your employees. It cost someone their job in my Dad's office when a phone went unanswered until HE picked it up. Corollary: lead by example. If employees see you cleaning the bathroom when it is needed, they won't talk back if you order them to do it, and may even do so unprompted.

Unfortunately, theft happens. Some customers shoplift, some employees skim, etc. make sure you have good lines of sight from the places you'll be located the most. Get yourself good security gear, and make sure at least one camera is on each entryway and the cash register.

For more, read Paco Underhill's Why We Buy. It's a good book on marketing, adverising, and other realities of retail. Even how you arrange your goods on shelves- or the shelves themselves- is covered.
 
Last edited:


darjr

I crit!
Foster gaming in your area. Board games are huge and growing. If there isn't a local convention consider hosting game days at your store. Make sure folks know about those game days. Social media is great for that, especially Facebook events.
 

Jan van Leyden

Adventurer
Here's an extensive series of articles about opening and running a games shop. Much of the advice holds true for Comic Shops or those with a mixed assortment of goods, so you should take the time to read the series.

A toast to your success!
 

McNabb Games

First Post
Thank you so much everyone for your responses. I'm currently reading up on the resources and insight you all have provided.
I'm currently super swamped with work, running our newest Kickstarter game project and this year's newest game expansion for our RPG that I thought it would be easier to come here to ask the collective what pearls of wisdom you all could depart and you have not disappointed.
Our shop will be family owned and run by myself and my wife, as we are buying the location outright there will be no rent or nasty lease agreements looming overhead and I fully want to charge into this adventure as prepared as one can be on these undertakings. Thank you all so much for your aid, this is why I enjoy this industry more than any other.

Thanks,
John R L McNabb
 

Nytmare

David Jose
I've never owned or operated a gaming store, but I've been very close to people who have. I'd say that the #1 most common problem I've seen is allowing a store to become a clubhouse at the expense of your other customers. I think that gaming stores that are clubhouses tend to do better, but at the same time be careful to not let the inmates run the asylum.
 

Ryujin

Legend
I've never owned or operated a gaming store, but I've been very close to people who have. I'd say that the #1 most common problem I've seen is allowing a store to become a clubhouse at the expense of your other customers. I think that gaming stores that are clubhouses tend to do better, but at the same time be careful to not let the inmates run the asylum.

I would call that "being a comfortable location in which to hang around, without being cliquish."

There's a rather famous comic book store in Toronto, called The Silver Snail. They used to have a massive group of storefronts at the edge of the Garment District; several floors of comics, RPGs and tabletop games, models, collectibles..... It was caving under its own weight, but a place I tried to visit any time that I was in the area. They recently reinvented themselves as a small walk-up with a coffee shop in front, backed by massive high cabinets full of comics and a few collectibles scattered about, just around the corner from where I work. Oddly enough the new place doesn't appeal to me at all but I do see a dozen or more people lined up and waiting for them to open, for morning coffee, every weekday. Many leave with a coffee AND a bag. I'd call that a success by anyone's measure, whether or not it appeals to me.

Location is key. The Snail is on a busy street with a lot of walking traffic, a few steps down from the centre of our university campus.
 

Janx

Hero
here's a good idea a friend of mine liked at a shop, that we hadn't seen done before.

If your shop has snacks/drinks, setup a bar tab process, so that while I am playing, I can grab a twinkie and box of dice and put it on my tab. Before I leave, I close out my tab.

This makes it easier for racking up some sales while being convenient for the customer that they don't have to make 3 credit card transactions for a 3 hour stay to play D&D.
 

darjr

I crit!
The other way I've seen how a night of drinks and snacks were handled is via gift cards. Patrons would buy a gift card and use that for snacks and drinks through the day.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
hot geek girls are always a winner :p

Toxic masculinity, however, isn't.

I know he meant this tonguez-in-cheek :)P), but it *is* exactly the kind of comment that will have the ladies leaving your establishment behind. In the modern age, the ladies know more and more that they don't have to put up with such, and will take their custom elsewhere if you don't provide a safe environment for them. If you have events... consider having a harassment policy, and actually enforcing it.
 
Last edited:

ccs

41st lv DM
Don't screw around playing games when it comes to the business end of your business.
Pay your bills.
Pay your taxes.
Don't hire anyone under the age of 18, or still in High School. Labor Laws concerning minors are a Pain in the ***
Hire a damned good accountant & have access to a lawyer.
 

SunGold

First Post
I know it's been mentioned, but I'm going to say it again because it's so incredibly important: customer service needs to be top notch. At least where I live, having Amazon Prime means they'll throw things at my door within hours of my ordering them. If I'm laying around on a Saturday morning and decide I want a game/sourcebook/whatever, I need a damn good reason why I should get presentable, drive to a shop, and donate an extra 30% of the price to the store. Dealing with Comic Book Guy (or his brother, Barely Acknowledges You With a Sulk Guy) is not that reason.
 

McNabb Games

First Post
here's a good idea a friend of mine liked at a shop, that we hadn't seen done before.

If your shop has snacks/drinks, setup a bar tab process, so that while I am playing, I can grab a twinkie and box of dice and put it on my tab. Before I leave, I close out my tab.

This makes it easier for racking up some sales while being convenient for the customer that they don't have to make 3 credit card transactions for a 3 hour stay to play D&D.
That does sound like a good idea. As a customer it'd be more convenient to deal with one transaction vs multiple during a game. As a business owner I think this has a potential to encourage impulse purchasing. Thanks, this hadn't even crossed my mind.
 

McNabb Games

First Post
Toxic masculinity, however, isn't.

I know he meant this tonguez-in-cheek :)P), but it *is* exactly the kind of comment that will have the ladies leaving your establishment behind. In the modern age, the ladies know more and more that they don't have to put up with such, and will take their custom elsewhere if you don't provide a safe environment for them. If you have events... consider having a harassment policy, and actually enforcing it.
We actually have a poster of game room etiquette that we created a few years ago and one of the main rules is that "unwanted advances and discrimination will not be tolerated." It was meant to be a tongue and cheek set of references but had a huge impact on the quality of our games, as well as business meetings.
 

Gilladian

Adventurer
An unpleasant environment for female customers can be even more subtle than that. I don't go to my local comic shop much, because when I walk in, two or three guy employees close in on me to chat, hang around the whole time I'm in the store, and don't let me browse. I'm apparently such a unique animal - a woman comic reader, albeit in my 50's, that they can't get over it. It gets old, fast.
 

Not a store owner but I can comment on stores I like and dislike.

Clean is important.

Organized is important.

FRIENDLY is important.

KNOWLEDGABLE is important.

From there..... listen to your costumers. Balance what they want with what is affordable. Roleplaying? Boardgames? Card games? Comics? TPBs? etc.....

and from there on the negative side..... be prepared for the theft. Several shops have come and gone in my area due to theft alone.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top