I found that people younger than me ( I’m 46) we’re more inclined to talk shop then those who were older. I meet this nice young couple who owned 2 shops in Cali and we talked about everything. Yet people older then me give me a side glance and just walked away.
There are maybe 1,800 to 2,000 different answers to all of the questions you can ask based on the 1,800 to 2,000 different shops around you could ask and all of them are based on what works for them and may not be applicable to your situation.
What is your business goals and have you written a Mission Statement?
Ours is very simple. Having books on hand to be acquired for readers when they show up wanting them. We had hundreds of thousands of back issues in stock before even getting into new inventory. New inventory we try to keep about 2 years worth of new stock on hand for ongoing series and big events. Not all at once but thru inventory management and replacement. At about the 2 year point we should begin seeing previously owned inventory arriving removing the need for continually restocking with brand new copies. If in that time frame something happens and it’s a popular title then trades start to fill the gap.
Do you have enough time, patience and capital to work towards those goals? You don’t want to be taking out a 10 year loan on a business with a 5 year lease. Are you prepared to order heavy right up front so that when the 6 month welcome to Diamond discount runs out you still have a decent discount in place instead of getting caught dropping back to 35%. You also need to keep your credit straight out the gate so you can get off COD after 6 months which saves $60 to80 a month in COD fee’s.
Operating on the assumption that you’re thinking about inventory ordering for stocking a walk-in store and not an online only type business.
Know your market. Inventory Control. Increase gradually.
An example, large portions of the country don’t even know comics still exist since newsstand distribution shut down in the 90’s taking the spin racks away from every small town in the country. Computers and internet didn’t come around for many of us until the turn of the century and that was dial up. Things are different now. You may need to create/build the market itself over years by having what people will slowly begin to want on hand but not in qty that makes it a money pit. We use a very simple method.
Marvel and DC order 1 of every title.
Image, Dark Horse, IDW and Zenescope order 1 of every titles first 4 issues.
Take your subscription list and double it and add that to the order. The reason is 1 of those copies are already paid for and a portion of the second copy is already paid for by what’s left from the subscriber discounted price minus cost. That makes it low risk to have a copy on the shelf hoping that if one person liked it enough to subscribe, someone else will eventually also. If you have 10 Walking Dead subscriptions, order 20 roughly. If the product doesn’t sell then even heading to the dollar boxes for long term or online discounting, you aren’t actuially losing money.
Next you have to look at your Excel sheet and figure out how many comics you need from each of the 3 categories to get to the discount level you want to remain at minimum. Let’s say you need another $300 for Marvel. The next step is to look at what Marvels offering Deep Discounts on. If you buy 275% of this comic compared to what you bought of something else you get an extra 15% discount or such. Then you look and say you have 12 Captain Marvel 7’s on order, then if you add 6 more you save on all 18!!!
Still need more, listen to your customers. Did one or more people mention a specific Variant Cover you could acquire by purchasing more comics? Maybe you can add another 10 copies to what’s already on the order to qualify. Maybe it’s not close so you assemble a bundle package for the Ratio’s so one or more people can get packages covering the cost of ordering the extra A Covers.
Have extra money to gamble? Try a few titles from the misc section that sound interesting or you’ve heard customers mention. If they don’t sell after a while move on to another.
See something you think may be the next big thing? Grab extras for spec purposes.
Don’t be afraid to try alternative areas also. T-shirt of the month thing to attract new customers who wouldn’t buy a comic. Diversification of inventory to broaden the potential customer base.
Identify a business you want to be like (see the Mission Statement you just wrote). Do what they do. In our case we identify with Lone Star. We may never be that big but if you want to be like Mike the first step is to start doing what Mike does. Just keep in mind to grow slowly and safely. This is not the 90’s. Almost everyone has a phone, internet and an E-Bay account if they want one. There’s always going to be someone cheaper than you. There’s always going to be someone higher priced. There’s always going to be someone who wouldn’t bend over to pick something up unless it was a $20 bill and other’s that will happily pick up every penny off the sidewalk.