Darin Batten, co-owner of All-Star Comics & Games, Mishawaka, IN
My name is Darin Batten and I am one of the co-owners of All-Star Comics & Games in Mishawaka, Indiana (right next to South Bend, IN and the University of Notre Dame). We had an awesome turnout for FCBD! About 75-100 people were in line to get into our store before we opened on Sat. at 11 A.M. and took us nearly 4 hours to clear the deck to a manageable number! We used the press release kit that Diamond and FCBD provided to get the word out to the local media outlets. Our local paper ran a very nice article with a picture of our store interior and Spider-Man goodies on Friday. We added a scrolling line to our regular TV commercial mentioning FCBD the week prior to the event. And my business partner was on the news at 8:30 A.M. to promote FCBD on one of the weekend news shows. In addition, our weekly email lists and web page updates for the last 10 weeks have been hyping the event so we had very nice coverage.
From 11 A.M. to 8 P.M., when we closed, the store had people in looking at the other goodies as well as getting their free comics. We dug into our storeroom and pulled another 3000 or so issues that we were 'overly blessed' with and converted them to part of the FCBD materials in addition to the goodies that were branded for the event. Everyone was pleased with the day (X-Men/Micronauts #1 rules as a give away book!)
The biggest upshot was that Saturday was our best single day ever! Sales were awesome! In addition to the free comics, we were running demos of the Marvel HeroClix game all day long too. I must have had 4 or 5 tables filled most of the day with guys learning the game and that translated into sales. So all in all FCBD was a very good tool to bring people into the store. Once they were here probably 1 in 5 bought something else. The true test will be if any of the new people that visited our store will be back. Only time will tell!
John Stangeland, owner of Atlas Comics, Norridge, IL
Saturday was a solid success at our shop here in Norridge, Illinois just outside Chicago. We were able to wrangle a cover blurb on our suburban papers (total circulation around 100,000) with a photo and feature article covering Spider-Man, Free Comic Book Day and our store remodeling and sale.
There were about 25 customers waiting on Saturday as the doors opened, and we remained busy with many walk-ins throughout the day. Our Free selection consisted of 30 comics (25 mainstream and 5 'indy' titles) from which customers could choose any two. Spidey was of course, the undisputed champ with the Ultimate reprint and 2 other Spidey books from overstock flowing out the door like water.
A lot of the 'Free' folks were first timers, and we're hoping that at least a small percentage of them will become fans. The register ring for the average 'newbie' wasn't very high (maybe about $5 each), but it was enough to justify the work on this promotion even if they never return.
All in all, a pretty good weekend for our store and for the industry. It was far more successful than the opening of the X-Men movie, which created nary a ripple when it was released.
Now what do we do about the Hulk?
For reactions and comments by Joe Field, the retailer that came up with FCBD, see 'Joe Field on Free Comic Book Day.'
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