Whether you're into Marvel Comics, DC Comics, or any other graphic comic or fictitious universe, you might consider opening a comic book shop. It's a niche market with a big following and could mean decent money for anyone getting into the field. The average comic book salary is just under $62,000.
If you love comics and are committed to operating your own small business, this could be a great opportunity for you. If you're not sure where to start, a lot of planning, paperwork, and research is involved in forming your own company. To run it successfully, you'll need to stay organized when handling operations.
This article will walk you through the steps you'll need to take to open your comic book shop.
Education, Training, and Skills Required
While a business degree isn't required to open a comic book shop, there are some essential skills needed. At the heart of this role is a love and knowledge of comic books and related items. You need to know about the various comic titles (and their values), as well as related movies, music, and other pop culture interests. While there's no specific training in these areas, being interested and engaged in them will go a long way toward your success.
Creating a Plan for Your Comic Book Store
Comic book store owners have a number of important decisions to make as they open their own shops. Here are a few areas you'll need to consider:
- Specialty areas: As a comic shop owner, you could decide to sell any number of items - used or new comic books, trade paperbacks, graphic novels, and anime and manga, as well as accessories like action figures, video games, trading cards, posters, and other collectibles. You should determine this in advance so that you can organize your shop to properly display your merchandise. It's important to understand what you think will sell best in your area. Before opening your shop, determine if you'll open an online store and how your e-commerce site might differ from your retail space.
- Target market: Identifying and understanding your customer base is integral to success. Those shopping at your brick-and-mortar store will be different customers from those buying comics from you on eBay or elsewhere online. Understanding your audience will help you market both sides of your new store.
- Average range of prices: You also need to consider pricing as you open your comic book shop. Whether it's a brand-new title or rare comics, you need to understand your product and what it's worth. There are numerous comic book price guides to review online as you price your merchandise.
- Hours: Determine when your shop will be open. Base this on what works for your customers and on the area you're in. If you're in a busy area with a lot of foot traffic most days of the week, you might want to be open daily. Adjust your hours to when you see people shopping the most.
- Business costs: What are the operating and startup costs of your comic book shop? First, you'll need to consider the product. If you're selling new comics, it's best to reach out to Diamond Comic Distributors and other distributors for pricing. If you're selling used comics, you'll be buying directly from third parties much of the time. Other upfront costs to consider are rent for your space, business registration and insurance costs, and employee wages.
- Business plan: Before you open your shop, create a business plan. This important document will guide your new business. Though much of what we've discussed above will find its way into your business plan, there are other general components any good business plan will include: an executive summary, a list of who works for you, a list of your services and products, where you're located, a market analysis, an in-depth company description, your business structure (outlining how your company is organized and managed), marketing and sales plans, and financial projections.
Launching Your Shop
Once you've established a business plan, here are the steps you need to take to open a comic book shop.
Legal Steps to Opening Your Comic Book Store
One of the most important decisions you'll make for your new business is its legal structure. The four most common business entity types are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.
Each structure type has its own pros and cons. The entity you select affects how your company is taxed, your personal liability in the business, how you're able to obtain funding for it, and even how you file all business-related paperwork. Ultimately, only you know best which structure will work well for your business. As a comic book store owner, you'll likely opt for an LLC. This will protect your personal assets if your business goes into debt or you're sued, and the tax structure might benefit your company.
The name of your store is also a key decision. You'll want to select a unique name that is marketable to customers and also meets your state's legal requirements. From a marketability perspective, your name should speak to comic book lovers and provide them with an understanding of what your shop has to offer. Legally, each state has different naming requirements. Many will require you to choose a name that is unique and unlike any other business operating in the state. Some states will even prohibit you from using certain words in your name.
As you name your business, check your state laws on naming. Many states will also have an easily searchable database of existing businesses so you can check that your business name won't overlap with one that's already operating.
With your name and business structure ready to go, you'll fill out the paperwork needed to register your business. This will also vary by state, so do your research.
Look into whether there are any local licenses, permits, regulations, or required insurance needed to open a shop. This could be at the state, county, or even your city level. Check with your state and local business departments to ensure you have every required legal document needed to open your doors.
Taxes are another important piece of doing business. This is another area where you'll need to do your research to understand federal, state, and local tax requirements. How you file your taxes depends on your business structure. Most businesses, including LLCs, will operate using an employer identification number (EIN) as their tax ID. You'll apply for this EIN once you've registered your business.
After you've registered your comic book shop and have your EIN in hand, you should open a business bank account. Generally, you'll need these items to open such an account, although it could vary based on where you're banking:
- The EIN assigned to your business (or your Social Security number)
- Personal identification
- All business formation and legal documents
- Your ownership agreement (if you're working with a partner or as a corporation)
- Your business license
- A certificate of your assumed name
- Your monthly revenue or estimate
There's some additional paperwork that comes with operating a brick-and-mortar shop, as well. Whether you're renting space or have purchased property for your store, you'll need to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. Issued through your local building department, this will determine that your physical space is up to code. Again, check with your local government on this important document and see if there is anything else needed to operate your storefront in your town.
The Ins and Outs of Marketing Your New Comic Book Store
The comic book industry is a niche field; those who are interested in comics will seek you out but it's up to you to make it easy for them to find you. Even before you open your doors, you should have a marketing plan that includes a mix of traditional promoting and digital outreach.
Here are a few easy ways to promote your new store:
- Build a website. A proper website is needed to establish an online presence so that those interested in comics, collectibles, and other products you're selling can find you easily. While there are numerous website building tools available, like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix, you might opt to hire a professional for the job. Consider hiring a web design company to build your website or find a talented freelancer using a site like Upwork. Before you create your website, you'll also need to decide whether you want it to operate as an e-commerce site so people can purchase comics online, as well.
- Create social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These are just some of the social media sites you can use to have some fun, show off your shop, and engage other comic book lovers. It's important to post consistently and share a mix of new products, events, and special sales, as well as fun and informative tidbits that comic book fans will enjoy. It's an excellent way to build a relationship with regular shoppers and potential customers.
- Use branded media. Create an easily recognizable logo for your shop and your branded media, including social media banners, color schemes, themes, and slogans, to create an identity for your shop and to stand out among similar businesses. Hire a talented graphic designer to help you create a complete package of branded content.
- Write a blog. Incorporate a blog on your website to show off your comic book expertise. Find fun topics to write about, like the latest release from Dark Horse Comics or a character analysis of Batman. It should engage readers and show them that you know what you're talking about.
- Attend comic book conventions (comic cons). There's a whole culture surrounding comic cons. They're held all over the world but you can probably find some smaller local events wherever you happen to operate your business. You'll want your comic book shop to have a presence at these events, as it's a great way to sell some comics and form relationships with your local comic book fans.
- Don't forget traditional means of promoting. You'll reach many customers digitally, but traditional advertisements still go a long way. You might decide to send out flyers targeting homes in neighborhoods near your shop. Have business cards handy to distribute to anyone you meet who seems interested in your store.
- Set up online business pages. Make sure you claim and update your Google My Business and Yelp pages. These sites get a lot of traffic since they offer easy ways for customers to find the specific types of businesses they're looking for in their area.
The Day-to-Day Operations of a Comic Book Shop
While you love reading and talking comics with other fans, the actual day-to-day operations of your store might seem overwhelming. Luckily, Skynova's full range of accounting and invoicing software will help make your life a little easier.
Our basic software and templates make it easy for you to track sales and spending, giving you the time to focus on what you really love to do: selling comic books.
If you need help in the following areas, Skynova can help.
- Billing: Customize invoices using our free printable invoice template and then easily submit them to your customers.
- Track payments and costs: Use our accounting software module to keep accurate financial records and track all income and spending.
- Receipts: Our free receipt template makes it easy to generate receipts for customers.
- Packing slip: If you're operating an e-commerce comic shop and need to ship any items, use our free packing slip template.
Skynova Is the Smart Choice for Success
If you're passionate about comics and enjoy customer service, opening a comic book shop could be the ideal career for you. There's a lot of legal and business planning that goes into opening a store, though. This includes determining your business structure, learning the local nuances and business requirements, marketing and promoting your shop, and handling your day-to-day operations.
The paperwork and organization that comes with running a shop can seem overwhelming to most people, especially as a new business owner. You can rely on Skynova's accounting software and other software products to successfully run your new shop.
Our easy-to-use business templates help you bill customers, provide them with receipts, track all payments, and generally handle most of your paperwork. This frees you up to focus on growing your shop and engaging with your customers.