Retail Therapy: Chicago Comic Book Stores

January tends to be a very slow time for retailers, and this year comic book publishers are attempting to give readers extra reasons to brave the cold and visit their local stores. The much talked about price cuts from DC will be going into effect this January, along with the Point 1 initiative from Marvel (cheaper intro books intended to attract new readers to low-number flagship titles), but many have noticed that there will be less books coming out in January and February than in past months, particularly from the largest publisher, Marvel. Less books = less incentive to come in. Those pull boxes tend to fill up during the winter months while readers wait, often for weeks at a time between visits to purchase their books. Post-holiday months have historically been leaner, but with so many record low sales for several months this year (at least three consecutive months failed to see a single book cross the 100,000 mark), there won't be much of a nest egg to cover operating costs. Particularly pessimistic individuals fear that some stores won't survive the winter.

I'm not quite so convinced things will be any worse this year than they have been the past two years, but then again I am not working behind the counter any more. I do know my buying habits, and budget wise there isn't much in the way of spending money to go around in January. But see, this here blog o' mine may be small in readership but it does attract some attention from time to time. I may not be able to buy much these coming months, but I can shed a little light on stores that are (and are not) worth visiting during the cold winter. My very possibly insane plan for the upcoming months is to visit every single comic book store here in Chicago. There will be a few guidelines for stores that qualify for a visit. They have to be within city limits, they have to carry new comic books as their primary product, and even if I have visited the store in the past I will be making a visit to them again in order to spotlight them in this series. I also don't have a specific end date for the project so that I may be as thorough as possible. I'd hate for the last stores to get shorter right ups because of a deadline. It is very likely this will continue into the spring.

So much of our reading experience comes from the stores we visit; if this isn't the case for you, it may be time to start making those weekly visits again. The conversations, the recommendations, just seeing what is on the shelves that you didn't plan to read but may browse; those are all the reasons one needs to rug up and brave Chicago winter to visit their store, not some event book or gimmick. The comic book industry is unique because the retail outlets are run by knowledgeable individuals with the same passion for the product as their customers. This is not a guarantee for most shopping experiences, where you'll most likely encounter under-paid, over-worked bitter individuals who (to quote my grandmother) "couldn't find their ass with their own two hands". I may still meet similar individuals manning the registers at a few comic book stores (and I will mention it when I do), but they will at least still have a passion and knowledge of the books. For store employees that don't wish to share these assets, I won't judge them for it, but I may be a little harsher critic of what they have for sale in the store. If we don't stay for the people, we gotta have something to keep us coming back!

Stay tuned as I will begin this adventure through Chicago comic book retail with a trip to Third Coast Comics!
Third Coast Comics is located pretty close to my house in Edgewater, hence they are first on the list!
As I continue with the project I will update links on this post.
Part I: Third Coast Comics
Part II: Evil Squirrel Comics
Part III: Dark Tower Comics and Collectibles
Part IV: Variety Comics
Part V: Chicago Comics 
Part VI: G-Mart Comic Books
Part VII: Challengers Comics + Conversation

And here is a google map showing the locations of all of the stores as I visit them:

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