Challengers Comics in Chicago used 110 vendors in 2017
There’s no doubt about it: If you run a direct market comic store, Diamond Comic Distributors is the “direct” for your “market.” But any store worth its salt needs to be looking outside Diamond’s mine as well.

“Diamond is great with what they specialize in, comics and trades,” says Mike Wellman of The Comic Bug, a two-store Los Angeles-area chain. “But we find that it's cheaper and more time-efficient to order things like comic supplies, toys, and games from other vendors and distributors.”

Comic Bug orders toys and merch direct from manufacturers such as NECA, Mezco, and Kotobukiya that have either deeper discounts or faster arrival than Diamond. It’s all part of a growing trend.

“Diamond's is a deal of convenience—one stop shopping,” says Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, CA. “And no other distributor does frontlist comic books. Diamond is still far and away our largest supplier, but their percentage of our business has been steadily dropping in the last several years. We deal with about 40 vendors here and I know some retailers deal with a lot more than that.”

Challengers Comics in Chicago is one store that deals “with a lot more than that.” They ordered product from a whopping 110 suppliers in 2017, sometimes direct from creators themselves (see list below).

Books is, of course, a massive category. Jenn Haines owns two The Dragon stores in Ontario, with a third coming on June 1. She has a direct account with Hachette Book Group for Yen Press and Hyperion, where she enjoys a deeper discount.

“50% off Canadian cover price with no restocking fees versus 45% off at Diamond,” Haines says. “This is a big deal.” Haines also gets her Scholastic titles direct from Scholastic (where they’re always in stock) at 50% off.

Similarly, Ingram can offer returnability on books and magazines where Diamond does not, while Baker & Taylor can offer faster and cheaper shipping than Diamond.

Bags, boards, 9-pocket pages and other supplies can be your silent profit center, or a silent killer if you don’t watch your bottom line. Robert Young at Borderlands Comics in Greenville, SC swears by BCW.

“BCW has better pricing, and you can get free shipping by reaching proper purchase levels,” he says. “On supplies alone, this can be a $300 monthly savings or more.”

Southern Hobby Supply is also very popular for supplies, and even more.

“Getting comic supplies from Southern Hobby has long been more practical for us,” says Matthew Price of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman, OK. “We’ve also gotten gaming supplies and D&D books from them recently.”

Comic stores are also (call them what you will) merchandise stores or pop culture stores as well. Diamond offers a nice supply of novelty merch, but the cuts go much deeper when you go to the source.

“Ata-Boy is a great example of this, as they have tens of thousands of buttons that you can order by design, and Diamond only carries about a dozen of the button assortments, and they don't always keep those in stock,” Jenn Haines says. “They have a variety of racking and display options that they will add on for free with different purchase levels.”

And there’s also a closer-to-the-source option for one of the biggest merchandise items of the last several years.

“I get Funko Pops for $5.50 to $5.75 direct from Funko versus $6.25 from Diamond,” says Lael Berelowitz of Vegas Comics in Las Vegas. “Any time I can find a direct account or a mom-and-pop distributor, I take a look at them, and I usually wind up doing business with them.”

Challengers Comics’ 2017 Supplier List

  • About Comics
  • Rosie Accola
  • Todd Allen
  • Alon Avissar
  • Ata-Boy
  • Bad Karma
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Celina Barajas
  • Rachel Bard
  • BCW Supplies
  • Beadro Dan Dougherty
  • Andrea Bell
  • Big Bad Toystore
  • Shawn Bowers
  • Brinwins Minions Toonhound
  • Lauren Burke/Monica Ras
  • Jessica Campbell
  • Ali Cantarella
  • C+D Visionary
  • Candy Guy
  • Don Cardenas
  • Check Please
  • Cloverkin
  • Sage Coffee
  • The Collective Toys
  • Matt Collin
  • Patrick Collins
  • Dark Horse Comics
  • ComixMix
  • Brian Crowley
  • ES Davies
  • Diamond Comic Dist.
  • Doctor Who
  • DoomCo Designs
  • Sean Dove
  • Jon Drawdoer
  • Drawn + Quarterly
  • Marie Enger
  • Entertainment Earth
  • Cat Farris
  • For Your Entertainment FYE
  • French Comics Assoc.
  • Furious Flair
  • German Glass
  • Chris Giarrusso
  • Corinne Halbert
  • Hasbro Toy Shop
  • Erica Henderson
  • Amber Huff
  • Sina Grace
  • Cathy Hannah
  • Hasbro
  • Hobby Link Japan
  • Johnny Wander
  • Ian.Freeze.Ink
  • IDW
  • Isabellas Creations
  • Kickstarter
  • Kotobukiya
  • Kriota Willberg 
  • Jonathan LaMantia
  • Lapel Yeah
  • Kate Leth
  • Sheika Lugtu
  • Make Toys
  • Marty and Sarah Love Wrestling
  • Stephanie Mided
  • Miniworld
  • Mr. Greens Comics
  • My Comic Shop
  • Nakama Toys
  • Alex Nall
  • Nobrow
  • Mike Norton
  • Amy Peltz
  • Oni Press
  • Onrie Kompan Productions
  • Peachstate Hobby
  • Chloe Perkis
  • Phils Toys
  • Plasticgod
  • Pooetry
  • Poster Emporium
  • David F Precht
  • Quality Lapel Pins
  • Radiator Comics
  • Resist!
  • Revoltech
  • Rickmobile
  • Ashley Riot
  • Alex Rosado
  • Isabella Rotman
  • Rebecca Rothschild
  • Silent E Productions
  • Silver Drago
  • Southern Hobby
  • Melissa Sue Stanley
  • Super Emo Friends
  • Super Group Hugs
  • Stan Tanaka
  • TF Source
  • Think Geek
  • Lizzy Tiritilli
  • Tom Kelly Kittys
  • Topatoco
  • Toys R Us
  • Uprinting
  • We Love Fine
  • Bianca Xunise
  • Yeti Press