Everyone has their favorite business to visit. A favorite supermarket, haircut place, oil change spot, electronics store, clothes store, etc. There are very obvious tones as to why we frequent these particular establishments. The cleanness and location are usually the tops, but there is also the staff, pricing, ambiance, room space, lighting, neatness and the ability to find and use a bathroom if need be. A clean bathroom is always a bonus.


Supplies to protect and sell your valuable comic books, Bags, sleeves, storage boxes, mailers and Display supplies.

There are local comic shops in my area and as a consumer, I apply all of the above criteria to my favorite shop. There is a comic shop location less than 3 miles from my home, but I get on the highway and travel seven exits away to buy comics at that store instead. Some may think this is bizarre or simply crazy, but I do not see it this way. Some may completely understand. Going by the criteria set forth in the first paragraph of this post, yes, as a consumer, I want the best experience.

I have been a comic collector for many years, about 33+ years and have visited at least 50 or more comic shops in my life. Locations in New York, Boston, Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Vegas, New Jersey and many others. Each time there was a different experience. Some were good, some were just ‘okay’ and some were downright rotten. ‘Okay,’ and ‘rotten’ prompts me to travel seven exits away to that other shop. Let’s understand, just because I do not have a good experience at this particular shop does not mean others experience the same. For me personally, the vibe doesn’t jive.

I’m going to break down some of the things that ‘consumers’ are looking for when visiting a comic store either for the first time or the one thousandth time. This is not geared towards that collector that stays at the shop on new comic book Wednesday from noon till closing. This is the regular weekly customer that knows the owner, the person(s) ringing them up, and some other customers all by first name.

The Criteria


Smile = friendliness. Man oh man can a smile go a long way. Such a simple gesture, an indication that the owner or employer are welcoming you into their establishment and are also ready to meet your needs. An invitation that says, ‘I’m cool, I’m here to help if you need it’. A smile does that. A scowl does not. A blank stare does not. We all have bad days, but a business cannot afford a bad day….ever. What if a big collector, a consumer moved 3 miles away from your store and you’re the closest comic shop to him/her? What if their pull list consisted of ten or 20 comics a week? What if they buy higher priced back issues on a consistent basis? What if they want to be treated with respect when they walk through your door? You don’t smile, they travel seven exits to the next closest comic shop.


Stock. Having back issues is very important. Especially these days with the movie or television news breaking every few weeks. Collectors are on top of these things. Mostly speculators, but they want to make a dime just like anyone else. Here’s a quick 100% true story. A few weeks ago a new comic was released and it was a hot seller on eBay even before its Wednesday release. I wanted to do the speculator thing, why not, making money is not against the law right? I went to the stores that are literally 8 minutes from my home (think I’d learn by now) when it opened on new comic book day. Much to my non-surprise, that hot comic was not on the shelf. I proceeded to travel those seven exits to the other shop (the good one) and guess what? There is was, right there on the shelf for anyone to buy. Granted they sold out later that day, but the point is, they had books to sell and not hoard away. The shop that’s closest to me always never fails, displays the comic on a Saturday, the Wednesday after new comic day with a price tag that exceeds the last Ebay price it last sold for. It’s not only not cool to do this, but it’s slimy and collectors take notice of this. Don’t do this. The back issues work in similar fashion. Here’s another quick 100% true story. I went to a shop last month that was way out of my neighborhood, I was in the area. I went through their absolute mess of back issues (more on this in a minute) and found 3 key back issues that were priced well below the going bid right now. One of those ‘hot comics’ announced as a movie recently. I left one of the issues in the box because it was badly damaged, so there were four in total and I was buying three. The counter person goes to ring me up and asks “Are there any more of these? Did you take them all?” I said, “Well, yes, I left one because I didn’t like the condition”. He literally looked behind him at the sea of a mess as though I was lying to him. He proceeded to WALK over and look! It was there as I said it was. He came back and rang me up. As a consumer, do not ever do this to a person buying in your store. It’s absurd, rude, obnoxious, and flat-out unnecessary. And the biggest question, why is it that I wasn’t allowed to buy the inventory that was available? I was not about to get into a dispute or even air out my grievances for being treated that way. So, instead, I will not visit this store ever again. Seven exits away…….


Mess = frustration. Your favorite establishments are neat. Well most of them, right? That haircut place you go to, it doesn’t have dirty combs on the floor right? The clothes store you love, it doesn’t have clothes thrown all over the place, right? So why should a comic store have comics sitting on top of boxes, sprawled all over the store or completely out of order in the boxes? This is unacceptable. Neatness counts. Finding a back issue without having to ‘guess’ where it might be is not a viable option for me personally and I don’t think it is for any collector. However, there is a silver lining though. A gem or two will always be found in that pile sitting in the corner no one has gone through in 2 years. That’s where you’ll find that Power Pack #1 for 25 cents. But overall, it’s extremely irritating trying to find a comic in a complete mess. Comic shops need to tidy up. Get their inventory in order. It’s very easy for a collector to get very frustrated and not find what they are looking for, thus eventually not going to that store anymore. Seven exits away…..


Crowds. We all love a crowd, right? We’re all socialites, right? Well some of us are and some aren’t. Here’s the thing. While there is nothing wrong with having a ‘crowd’ in a comic shop, it’s an issue if they are there doing a whole lot of nothing and cramping the style of the joint. Say that new customer walks in. There is a crowd hanging around by the counter. You go up to pay and the ‘HUSH’ happens. Everyone is quiet as you pay your way through. It’s very awkward and extremely unprofessional to have random people hanging around the register. It makes for an uncomfortable purchase. Best thing to do as a comic shop is not to have those people hanging around the front counter. Seven exits away…..

“My Comic Shop is AWESOME!!!!!”

Bad Mouth

Comic shops should never bad mouth other shops OR stand on top of a box with a megaphone and scream “We’re the best!” While you may be the best, the best don’t have to remind anyone they are the best. Their store should do the talking for them. Word of mouth should do that for them. No need to brag or boast, it’s fleeting and desperate. Stating facts that your store is an award winner or your store appeared in the New York Times or anything like this should be of importance, not a mindless boast of how great you are. No one cares but you. Coke says how great their drink is, Dunkin Donuts coffee is great, Old Navy clothes are great prices for kids, etc. The common denominator with these companies is one thing, they aren’t boasting. No need to, their product will speak for itself. Going into that comic shop and hearing an owner or employee say how bad the guy/gal up the road is, is very unflattering and bitter. A customer doesn’t want to walk into a battle zone, they want a pleasant experience and more than likely will, in fact, check out the other comic shop because you bring it up, thus possibly losing a customer because guess what? That store isn’t the pessimistic one. A happy environment is a happy consumer. Seven exits away…..

Those are just SOME of the lessons and some advice I can offer as a comic collector visiting so many stores over the years. It really would be so convenient to take that easy three-mile drive, but choosing a good environment is more important to me. Seven exits away, but worth the trip every single time.

-Jay Katz

Jay Katz, a comic book collector since 1983, is the owner/creator of InvestComics LLC since 2005. InvestComics LLC was originally a magazine before the website launched in 2005.

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