The Miami Herald reports on another specialty store located in the city, with products that give it quality of a museum layout, is yet another such store whose future is financially jeopardized:
A&M Comics and Books, the oldest comic book store in Florida, has fought off a veritable league of supervillains over its 46-year history: Hurricane Andrew, Sept. 11, two national financial crises, the digital revolution, even a fire.
But the store, which sits on the western edge of a nondescript strip mall at 6650 Bird Road in Miami, may have finally met its kryptonite: The coronavirus pandemic.
“Sales have dropped 80 percent,” said Jorge Perez, who has owned A&M Comics since 1990. “No new comic books have been printed since March 25, the first time that has happened since World War II. And now, publishers like Marvel Comics are offering streaming services for $20 a month that lets you read as many comics as you want online. So we’re not even getting the casual buyer, because everyone is staying at home.”
The interview must’ve been written up before Marvel stopped updating their digital service, and some of those who’ll continue to use the site, if accessible at all, would do well to stick with the older stuff up until about 2002.
But, the point’s been made that Marvel clearly wasn’t doing as well as they must want everyone to think regarding their digital services.
Since April 15, Perez, 55, has been paying the $1,900 rent on the 1,000-square-foot shop using his own savings. He pays another $1,000 per month in utilities. He applied for a $5,000 small business loan with SunTrust but hasn’t heard back.
His staff, all of them part-time high school and college students who make $7 an hour in rotating shifts during the week, is staying home until the shutdown order is lifted.
Well that’s sad if they don’t give him the aid he needs. For now, there’s no telling how this’ll end.
The article goes on to talk about how he’s set up his store with a lot of memorabilia, and also notes that:
Perez broadened the store’s stock to include every conceivable kind of memorabilia and toys, as well as the extensive catalog of back issues, because the margin of profit on new comic books isn’t enough to keep the business going.
“A new book costs four dollars, but we get a 50 percent discount,” he said. “Then we give our monthly subscribers another 20 percent off. So on a $4 book, we make $1.20.”
As I’ve felt for a long time, these high prices are obviously causing more trouble than you’d think, for the business as much as the customer. If the pamphlets lead to a situation where the store can’t afford to market them apart from the other merchandise now available at a lot of these very stores, what’s the use of printing them that way, or running a store based on that very sales model? This is exactly why anyone who gets into this kind of business in the future has to consider what would make the better, more profitable model for what to sell. Now, because of this whole pandemic, a store’s survival may be in jeopardy because the industry kept itself nailed on an ill-advised long term strategy. As I’ve said before, a call must be made for altering the format for the better.
Originally published here.