Lee Hester of Lee's Comics in San Mateo, California sent us this comment on his recent experience at a local high school book fair, which contains some valuable lessons for retailers looking at ways to build their businesses:

A few weeks ago, on Thursday March 23rd to be exact, Mark and I set up a presentation at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo for their book fair.  I picked out 10 boxes of graphic novels, and a couple of boxes of comic books that I hoped would represent a good cross-section of our stock.  I wanted to choose titles that would appeal to the students.

The selection included Owley, Calvin & Hobbes, Asterix, Tintin, Peanuts, Archie, Donald Duck, and Little Lulu, for all ages readers.  I also brought popular manga books.  I brought some of the acclaimed works of the medium such as Watchmen, Maus, Black Hole, Percepolis, and Contract with God.  I brought Goth favorites like Johnny, Squee, Gloom Cookie, Lenore, and Courtney Crumrin.  I topped it off with a good selection of popular superhero titles such as Joss Whedon's X-Men, Superman, Spider-man, and Batman.  I brought the 'Hey Kid's, Comics' spinner and filled it with good all-ages comics that were on sale for just 25 cents each.  I also brought in the Gacha machine from San Mateo.

We set up in the library, using several tables to display our wares.  At regular intervals, teachers brought in their classes to the book fair.  We had lots of kid looking, and they asked plenty of questions.  What was shocking to Mark and me was that about 90 percent of these students didn't know that we had a store in that town.  We were just 10 blocks away, and had been there since 1987, but most of them were unaware that we existed.  I was really glad that we were there to raise awareness.

Sales were decent during our visit.  One of the largest sales was to the library itself.  They stocked up on plenty of quality books for their library. We made a donation of several books for them in thanks for letting us have a presence at their event.

One of the reasons I mention this event is that I think we as comic book dealers need to do much more of them.  We need to get out in the neighborhoods and get the people interested in graphic novels, especially the children.  We should be at street fairs, book fairs, flea markets, carnivals and the like promoting the gospel of comics.  Our future survival depends on it.

The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.