Here are a couple more shots from my Free Comic Book Day, taken by my dad…here’s pal Dorian at the right of the image supervising the shenanigans and goings-on in the shop:
And here’s another pic of Sterling Silver Comics‘s Dark Avenger of the Night:
I had a question or comment pop up in the comments that I wanted to address, such as pal Rob asking me:
“…What kind of impact do you think that Jaime Hernandez had on the turnout for the day?”
You know, it’s really hard to say. I know I had several people very excited about his appearance at the shop, so I’m sure it encouraged some good measure of traffic. But, as you saw yourself when you were there, it was very busy, particularly just as I opened, so it’s hard to say when dealing with this number of people how many were there for the free comics and the deals, how many were there just for Jaime, and so on. I did see a few people make a direct line right from the front door straight to Jaime, so those folks I can probably count in the “we’re here for the Love and Rockets guy” camp!
• • •
“I’ve done a few FCBD events over the years and no shop I’ve worked with has ever had any leftovers, whether they had a limit per customer or not. […] I think a limit per customer is exactly in the spirit of the event, personally.”
Earlier in this site’s life we had plenty of back-and-forth in the comments about “limits” or “no limits” on FCBD. I am very firmly in the “no limits” camp, as in “take one of each if you’d like” (so long as they’re age-appropriate, of course). (And even then I might let the “one of each” thing slide if they’re taking copies home for sick kids, or friends who couldn’t make it, or whatever…just as long as they’re not grabbing the entire stack of Suicide Squad #1.) However, I do understand stores that put limits on how many different comics people can take, whether it’s to stretch out stock because they could only afford to order so much, or, you know, whatever reason it might be. Every store is different, with varying needs and customer demands and so on, and what might be right for me may not be in the next retailer’s best interest.
In my case, my belief is that FCBD is for letting people get exposed to as many new comics as possible, so not limiting their choices is my preferred, and so far successful, strategy. If I had to have limits, what I would probably do is not include the Big Ones in the limit count…like, order tons of the Marvel and DC freebies which everyone will want, and don’t count those toward whatever limit you set.
I noted during my Twitter comments on FCBD that, even though I didn’t have a limit on the number of different FCBD comics you could take, most people didn’t take one of each of the 50 different titles that were available. Yes, of course some people did, but just as many people just took one or two comics, even after being reassured they could take more if they wanted. This has been my experience the entire 15 years I’ve been doing Free Comic Book Day. Even early on at my previous place of employment, where we prepared prepacked bags (divided by age-appropriateness) and people could get every FCBD book if they took each of the Kids, Teens, and Grown-Ups bags, not everyone did. A limit didn’t have to be enforced, because, well, it all evened out in the end, more or less.
As far as leftovers go…like I said Monday, at the old shop where I had the numbers down, we had barely any leftovers at the end of the day. And last year, the first FCBD at my new shop, by some miracle of guesstimation I ordered pretty close to exactly what I needed, leaving me with only a relative handful. This year, not knowing how much extra traffic I was going to get, I overordered by a pretty good amount, and even though I did give away a lot more comics this year, I still had maybe about 15% or so remaining. Which is okay…I’ve already reduced that by quite a bit by leaving a table out and continuing to give them away to people who didn’t make it that Saturday, and donating some to that school. And as I said, this will help me gauge my orders for next time.
• • •
Andrew wondered about my reaction to this FCBD article, in which retailers express their feelings, positive and negative, about the event. Well, like I said above, each retailer’s needs will be different, and FCBD can been a boon to some, a burden to others. All I can tell you is that I’m glad, at my previous position and at my own store, that I’ve been able to take extreme advantage of it to great personal benefit and profit.
Someone always asks what the long term results are from Free Comic Book Day. In the short term there are of course, if you’re able to manage it, the significant one day profits from the huge amount of increased business. But, as the person in that linked article noted, folks who come in just for the freebies aren’t going to turn into weekly customers. And that’s okay. It’s enough to remind your local community that, hey, your store exists, and comics exist, and that they’re their own thing and not necessarily just R&D for the movies you like. And maybe down the road if they find they do have a curiosity about comics, or if they need to buy a comic-related gift for someone, maybe they’ll remember that nice store that gave them some free comics that one time.
And if you have a good enough sale that day, you can clear out some old stock and make room for new stuff. …Sorry, as a retailer, I gotta think about that stuff, too.