Last month I moved from Iowa to South Carolina. Moving is always an equally stressful and exciting time for me, but one specific area had me incredibly anxious – changing comic shops. You see, I love my local comic book store in Iowa. LOVE it. I walk over every Wednesday at lunch. I pick up my file. I talk to people. I ask for recommendations. It’s a great shop populated by awesome people who know me by name and interest. I’ve experienced a bad LCS, where no one would speak to me or acknowledge my presence, or where I was quizzed and interrogated about my selections. I had no desire to go back to that. I was so nervous about the kind of store I would find in South Carolina that I was fully prepared to switch to the mail subscription service that my Iowa shop offered, even though it would rob me of the interaction that I enjoy in a brick and mortar location.
Before I left Iowa I did some research. A quick google search yielded two comic book stores in the area I was moving to. Both had an online and social media presence, carried games/toys/rpg supplies, and a variety of trades, floppies, and back issues. All positives for me, although one store appeared to be larger and in a “cooler” area of town. Neither used Comixology pull list, which was a bummer. I like the convenience of being able to add books to my pull list through Comixology, but it wasn’t a deal breaker. The only thing left was to actually visit the stores once I arrived.
In a wonderful gesture of welcome, my new boss and his wife took me out to dinner, and knowing my love of comics and limited familiarity with the area, included a trip to the “larger and cooler” comic book store. Their selection was truly impressive. Not only did they have pretty much any trade I might like, their new comics wall was massive. Great selection of Pop figures and other toys, and tons of rpg figures, dice, and manuals. There was even a general reading section that my boss perused and found a research book he’d been looking for. The downside – on a Friday night in a crowd of about 25 I was the only woman. This by itself didn’t worry me, but when combined with a good twenty minutes of wandering around the store with no employee interaction was disheartening. On the bright side when I did make my way to the register, cash and comics in hand, the clerk was friendly and helpful (I’d been unable to locate a specific title and he ran and grabbed a copy for me). I left feeling okay about my experience.
The next day I decided to visit the other store. The entrance, unassuming at best, had me worried. Was this store the size of my living room? Turns out, that no, while smaller than the two-story store that I was used to in Iowa, some things really are bigger on the inside. Also, women. Lots of women. Two working behind the counter, and various others shopping. On a Saturday. I tried not to get too excited. The selection was good. Lots of trades and floppies. I was even found a copy of Goldie Vance #1 that I had missed when it first came out and had been looking for since. And then there were the toys. Front and center – Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Pop figures. Yes, please. When I approached the counter, arms laden, the clerk gave me a huge smile and started talking Potterverse with me. I needed no further evidence that these were my people and this was my new LCS. I explained that I was new to the area and needed to set up a pull list. In five minutes she had all my titles in to their system and had sent me a confirmation email. It was not only painless, but joyful.
In the few weeks since I’ve visited both shops multiple times. I’m still very happy with my decision. My new LCS continues to actively engage me in conversation about my various fandoms and several employees have begun to make recommendations. They even special ordered a title that I mentioned in passing. Of all the aspects of my cross country move, the smoothest transition was switching comic book stores. Who would have thought? I’m glad I took the time to research and visit each store. On paper, the larger “cooler” store would have seemed a better fit. Don’t underestimate the power of great LCS employees. Find your people – find your store.