It was only a couple of weekends ago that Batman Day was held for 2016. That seems to be turning into a successful yearly event at local comics shops!
Coming at the end of October will be Halloween ComicFest, the fall’s version of Free Comic Book Day. It will be held on the last Saturday of the month, the 29th. There will be free comics and other treats galore at participating locations!
If you’re like me, you’re noticing a trend about Saturdays at your local comics shops.
HOW A WEEK OFTEN GOES AT A COMICS STORE
Most people want their comics as soon as they can get to them. That often means on Wednesdays, when they’re released to the public.
After that, Thursday is maybe half (or less) of what Wednesday was, followed by Friday, Saturday and so on until Tuesday, which is the big push to get ready for the next New Comic Book Day, Wednesday again. (Not every store follows this pattern, but in my talking with store owners, this is pretty common.)
What a lot of stores do to bring people back on a day besides Wednesday is to hold, say, a gaming night or some other kind of event that customers enjoy. If a store is smart, they’ll also sell snacks or soda so that people sitting in their store for a few hours can refill their tanks when needed. And they’ll make money from it.
Weekends can be bigger with stores because that’s a day many fans don’t have to work (although some still do). Sometimes they’re looking for something to do, so they check in at their local comics shop to talk genre or to see what they might have missed on Wednesday.
Saturday will often be bigger than Sunday because the latter could also be called “I Gotta Go to Work Tomorrow” Day or “All Football, All Day” Day. Many one-day conventions are held on Saturdays because people are more readily available then. However, there are several Sunday-only cons that are very successful, including the upcoming Clermont Comic Con in Florida.
Some stores, particularly in more rural areas, won’t be open on Sundays because the demand simply isn’t there. I’ve come across some that don’t open at all over the weekend, but that’s pretty rare these days.
So, what’s a local comics shop to do to drum up more business on what could be a slow day?
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY STARTED IT ALL
While some stores were already holding gaming contests and other events on Saturdays, Free Comic Book Day, held on the first Saturday in May, really drew attention to what an event on Saturday could do for stores.
Granted, FCBD started slowly, but it’s now one of the biggest sales days (if not THE biggest) of the year for many stores. Many smart store owners started to think, “What else could we do?”
This has blossomed into quite the thing for comics shops. In the Central Florida area where I live, there are many Saturday events each year, including ones that focus on Doctor Who, supporting local comics creators (a personal favorite), Magic card debuts, Indie comics, gaming contests, yearly store-opening anniversaries, tech/mech, holiday sales kick-offs and many others.
They’re doing quite well, thank you!
NOT EVERY SATURDAY, THOUGH
The big danger in doing something on a weekly or even monthly basis is that interest eventually peters out.
There used to be a local comics convention held on the first Saturday of every month here in the Orlando area. At the time, I was collecting issues I was missing from the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans. Each month I went until I had filled in every gap I had.
After that, I didn’t go any more. I had been there enough times to know what they had and that I didn’t want or have the money to buy whatever was left. Eventually, it stopped being held, and I barely noticed.
The same thing can happen with Saturday events. If you go to that well too often as a store, it becomes commonplace.
My recommendation is to limit events to only, say, once a month … that is, unless the demand is there for more!
THE FUTURE OF SATURDAY EVENTS
The best store owners get to know their customers. What are they interested in buying? What do they like?
The days of the “library” syndrome in comics shops is pretty much done. You know, the place where people sit silently either looking at a computer screen or a comic? The ones where you can’t even talk with other customers? Sheesh!
I like to frequent stores that know my tastes and can point me in the direction of something I might not be aware of yet. I’ve often mentioned that this is how I got into The Walking Dead. I had some extra money one weekend, and the owner said I should try it. I was aghast! A black-and-white comic about zombies? It can’t be any good! He persisted, and boy, was I wrong!
Who knows? Maybe you as a customer or the store you go to may come up with “the next big thing” in Saturday events. If there’s something your local shop could be doing to meet your needs or wants, talk with them about it. I used to see a lot of stores celebrating the release of comics-related movies, but I don’t see that happening much anymore, probably due to the fact that there are so many. Perhaps that could return if there are enough fans interested in a shop. Again, I’m sure your store would be interested in your suggestions even if they don’t necessarily work out.
I expect events like this will only continue to grow and help local shops. At least, I hope so!
Do you have any suggestions for Saturday events? Please comment in the space below!