Most of the pop culture retailers surveyed by ICv2 this weekend reported solid sales on Black Friday. With apologies to Steely Dan and anyone familiar with Friday Sept. 24, 1869, when Jay Gould and Jim Fisk's attempt to corner the gold market wreaked havoc on the markets, 'Black Friday' now refers to the Friday after Thanksgiving, when retailers, who kept their books by hand, were able to switch from red ink (loss) to black ink (profit). With many people eager to get a head start on their holiday shopping, Black Friday is traditionally one the best retail sales days of the year -- witness Wal-Mart's jaw-dropping total of $1.5 billion in sales on Black Friday this year. While most pop culture stores don't benefit from increased mall traffic and aren't as dependent on seasonal sales as toy stores or department stores, the week of Thanksgiving is generally strong since many people have both Wednesday and Friday off.
Joe Fields of Flying Colors in Concord California reported the biggest spike in sales. Fields ran a post-Thanksgiving sale on manga and was rewarded with his store's third best day ever, trailing only the first two Free Comic Book Days. Manga was Fields' number one sales generator, followed by DC trades and hardcovers (indicators of holiday shopping), new Marvel comics, and statues and busts (another gift-friendly category).
Black Friday sales at Oxford Comics in Atlanta exceeded expectations and marked a significant gain over last year.
Sales at Midtown Comics in Manhattan and Chicago Comics were also up over last year.
Buddy Saunders of the Texas-based Lone Star Comics chain reported strong sales on Wednesday (Friday figures were not available when ICv2 called). Saunders also reported a significant increase in business on his Website -- web-shopping appears to be growing again this year with Amazon reporting 2.5 times the number of consumers placing orders on Black Friday in 2003 as opposed to 2002.
Rory Root of Comic Relief in Berkeley California also reported strong sales on both Wednesday and Friday. Root, whose operation has been hampered by illness among some key employees, sent out a call for help over the Internet a little over a week ago, which certainly factored in to his increased sales this weekend. Root has been very gratified by the response from comics professionals, fans, and the Berkeley community. While Root told ICv2 that Comic Relief is not out woods yet, he can see a path.