Comic Retail: Behind the Scenes Edition Part 1

I love the extras that come on my blu rays and DVDs (sometimes more than the actual movie.)  I love seeing and learning about how the movie came together and the thought processes and paths that brought about the finished project.

As we approach our 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY from opening our doors, I want to let you guys in on how I got into selling comics and a bit of info on how the retail side of the comic industry works.

the hive smart cosplay
Opening Day at the original location June 2017

In late 2011 / 2012, i started to have this desire to open a comic shop in my home town.  I was currently living in Austin, TX and was a frequent visitor of Austin Books and Comics and I wanted to offer MY home town that same, quality experience.

Odessa has been without a true comic shop in approximately 20 years.  When I was a kid, we had at least 4 shops in Odessa.  My favorite was Cody’s Comics and Cards on Grandview, just down from Daylight Donuts. It was a true “mom and pop” shop and it was owned by a sweet older couple.

My mom would drop me off and run errands while i dug through every back issue bin, usually looking for X-Men or Spider-Man books.  The couple that owned the shop knew me and were kind enough to let me spend HOURS in there pouring over everything.

Sadly, Cody’s closed in the late 90’s or early 2000’s and Odessa was left to pass time in the comic void of our own Negative Zone.

Sure, we had Hastings at one point, and a card shop tried taking on selling our favorite periodicals, but a “true” comic shop experience was no where to be seen.

In late spring of 2016, I had a conversation about my desire to open my own shop and that i had toyed with the idea for years.  I was convicted in that conversation that I needed to start taking steps to see what would happen.

The HIVE officially started June 1, 2016 out of my house. I had, maybe, 500 comics in my collection and I was determined to do something with them.  I spent the summer organizing, pricing, and also buying more comics.

I did nothing but read ab

out the industry and the “do’s and don’t’s” of selling comics and opening your own shop.  I think I read everything available on google.  I was a sponge.  One of the most valuable resources came from the Mile High Comics database where their founder gives his advice for jumping into the business.  It is a little outdated, but still tons of great info.

mile high database

I learned so much from my research and it drove me to push and grow and work to make this dream a reality.

In August of 2016 I had my first comic con.  It was the Permian Basin Anime Expo at the Ector County Coliseum’s Barn G.

I was scared.

What if I didn’t have enough to show? What if people in the area weren’t in to comics anymore?  Does anyone really want a comic shop in Odessa? So many thoughts in my little noggin.

early hive booh
First Show!

From my modest collection, with nothing new mind you, I made $567 dollars that weekend. Boy howdy, I was on my way.

I used that money to buy more collections and grow.  I had a hiatus for about six months as my family got into foster care, but i never let the dream die.

Fast forward to March of 2017 and I had a booth at the Permian Basin Comic Con X in Midland.  I had a bigger booth and more inventory. That was a great show. People really seemed excited for a shop in our area and I was determined to do my best to make it happen.

I started doing little online sales via Facebook, just to keep interest going and keep revenue flowing. I had people coming to my house, which was kinda weird having someone look through comics in your bedroom.  My wife was not amused, especially since my collection had overtake our master.

I needed an actual store front.

It was in early May of 2017 that I was put in contact with a guy named Melvin Herron. Melvin wanted to open a gaming store and thought we could partner up since he already had a lease. We started moving in around Memorial Day and geared up for a soft opening on June 10th.

Melvin brought lots of experience and energy and was almost giddy.  I remember him saying to me “This is your dream, let’s make it happen.”stormy and jo

An actual comic shop had returned to Odessa.

Many of you that came on that first Saturday are still coming by every week to get your fix.  We have grown and changed quiet a bit since that opening and we’ve seen our customers grow with us. It seems like every week we have new faces coming in and becoming friends. We’ve come to know your families as you let us into your lives as you come in and let us share our passions with you. I can’t even express how much the support that my community has shown my shop has meant to me.

From the outset, my mission for the shop was to be more than just a place to come buy comics and games.  I want the shop to reflect and support the community that supports us.  That is why we are working with school in our area.  That’s why we host family workshops.  That is why we do toy drives for High Sky Children’s Ranch.  That’s why we host fundraisers for families in need.  That’s why we love having events, because it pulls people together!

In Part II, I’ll share with you what I have learned about the retail aspect comic industry.

Stay tuned

-matt