Mixing It Up
published in Joes The Big Picture column for Comics
& Games Retailers
magazine, no.146, March 2004
Diamond Previews is running at close to 500 pages a month. Every day, catalogues of one variety or another come by mail, from all sorts of distributors. Role-playing games, candy, t-shirts, novelties, posters, toys, stickers---hundreds more pages heaped upon not just Previews, but also the other book distributor catalogues now carrying items of interest to specialty retailers.
The primary key to evaluating all the merchandise we're offered lies within our individual store identities. The Flying Colors mission statement reads: "Flying Colors' goal is a comic book store that's fun for the whole family, with excellent customer service and an environment that is friendly, convenient, clean and fair." The focus in that statement colors everything we do, from the way our store is laid out, to the ways we price and represent the merchandise we sell, to how we treat our customers. The focus is especially apparent in how we choose the merchandise we'll stock, sell and promote.
Knowledge and Interests
I recommend having each staff member look through at least the primary merchandise catalogues for their advice on which products will get them motivated to show to customers. Having missed the last couple of Alternative Press Expos in nearby San Francisco due to family conflicts, I've enlisted staff members---with store cash in hand--- to find new comic titles they can sell. As a veteran retailer, I find myself glossing over sales hype that finds its way to me, through the various catalogues, e-mail, Internet news sites or good ol' snail mail. But what may totally lose me could be highly engaging to others on staff here.
When considering new merchandise, here are a few questions to ponder:
1) Does the new product fit your store focus?
2) Do you have the space to adequately and attractively display the new items?
3) Is it priced to allow for making a decent profit?
4) Does the new merch have the potential to attract new buyers into your store?
5) Does the manufacturer back up the product with advertising, promotion and sales tools?
6) Will the product lead to additional sales or will it merely be an over-extension of an already-crowded category?
There are risks and rewards in extending your product selection. Hopefully, as you learn what works in your particular situation, you'll be rewarded with solid sales growth for years to come.
(The preceding was part of a presentation given to retailers at the recent GAMA Trade Show. Joe Field runs Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff, 2980 Treat Blvd, Concord CA 94518. E-mail is joe@FlyingColorsComics.com)
|Last updated: 06-Aug-2005 3:50 PM|
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