Johanna’s post on the closing of the comics shop Riot has led to quite a discussion in the comments based on what is considered insider skepticism over some of owner Jason Richards tactics. Along the way the difficulty of launching a comics shop are discussed.
The only people willing to do it have to be extremely stubborn to think they can succeed in the face of these factors and also have an excessive love either for the medium or one of the genres. That makes it difficult to take well-meaning advice, especially when stores and locations can be so different that what works for one person might not work for anyone else.
Of course, the private retailer forum erupted in a chorus of “told you so”. This wasn’t surprising, either, given Jason’s earlier departure from the group. The thread now has lots of good advice, but as happened before, the people who need it won’t see it. If you really want to help newcomers, “you’re not REALLY one of us, you’re just a hobbyist because you don’t use our methods of evaluating your success or have an employee” isn’t the way to phrase advice that will be listened to. Which is a shame, because the points were good, but they were presented in argumentative and hostile language that guaranteed they’d be ignored. (Some really seem upset that Jason criticized Civil War, too, as though saying Marvel’s plans weren’t ideal was a sin.)
Although we recognize how hard it is to run a comics shop, is it THAT much more difficult than launching any other small business? Most new businesses fail. Sure, comics shops don’t have a track record of recent successful launches to provide role models. That may be part of the problem. It seems that is changing, however.