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How to Start a Comic Book Store

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Comic Book Store

Fast Facts

Investment range

$14,300 - $28,300

Revenue potential

$144,000 - $288,000 p.a.

Time to build

3-6 months

Profit potential

$43,200 - $86,400 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Full-time

Comic books have been a popular collectible for over a century, with rare comic books selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Comic books are also a large global industry, valued at more than $16 billion.

If you’re a comic book enthusiast, you could take your passion to the next level and start your own comic book store. 

But before you stock up on inventory, you’ll need to understand the business. Luckily, this step-by-step guide has all the information you need to get your successful comic book store going.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Follow your passion
  • Meet other comic book enthusiasts
  • Growing market

Cons

  • Very niche business
  • Requires an investment

Comic book industry trends

Industry size and growth

Comic Book industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends

  • Comic books are increasingly being used as a literacy tool because they are fun and engaging.
  • Interestingly, most comic book readers are adults, which is important for comic book store owners to know, as it defines their target market.

Challenges

  • Online comic book sales are increasing, negatively impacting physical comic book stores.
  • DC comic book sales are declining, which could be a negative sign for the comic book industry.
Comic Book Industry Trends and Challenges

How much does it cost to start a comic book store business?

Startup costs for a comic book store range from $14,000 to $28,000. Costs include the space rental and preparation and inventory.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your comic book store business, including: 

  • Shelving
  • Checkout counter
  • POS system
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$500$300
Website$500 - $1,000$750
Space rental and preparation with shelving$3,000 - $5,000$4,000
Inventory$10,000 - $20,000$15,000
Sales and marketing budget$500 - $1,000$750
Total$14,300 - $28,300$21,300

How much can you earn from a comic book store business?

The average price of a comic book is about $4, but you’ll be able to charge much more for vintage and rare comic books. These calculations will assume an average total sale per customer of $20. Your profit margin should be about 30%.

In your first year or two, you might have 20 customers a day, 360 days a year, bringing in $144,000 in revenue. This would mean $43,200 in profit, assuming that 30% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might have 40 customers a day. With annual revenue of $288,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $86,400.

Comic Book Store earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a comic book store. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Funding the startup costs
  • Competing with online comic book sellers

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If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a comic book store, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research comic book stores in your area to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of comic book stores that offer similar products. 
  • Review your competitors’ products – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a comic book store that sells valuable comics and graphic novels, or a comic shop that has a variety of related items such as action figures.

You might consider targeting a niche, such as rare Marvel comics or Dark Horse comics.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products

You’ll likely offer new comics from brands like Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Image Comics, but you’ll also want to find and sell vintage and rare comics. You could also sell graphic novels, and comic related items like action figures or posters.

How much should you charge for comic books?

Your prices should be based on market prices, but also on your costs to acquire the comics.

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

A comic book store’s primary target market includes comic book enthusiasts and collectors, spanning all ages.

With the popularity of comic-based movies and TV shows, casual readers and fans of pop culture have become significant customers. Many stores also attract gamers, merchandise collectors, and readers of manga and graphic novels.

Additionally, events and workshops hosted by the store can draw attendees interested in specific activities or local talent.

The store’s specific offerings, location, and surrounding community further refine its target demographic.

Where? Choose a comic book store location

You’ll need to rent out a small space for your store. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Comic Book Store idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Comic Book Store Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “comic books” or “comic shop”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “UniverseTales Outlets” and “EpicExpand Bibliotek” over “HeroHaven Comics” and “PanelPulse Emporium”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Comic Book Store Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Provide a brief overview of your business plan, summarizing your goals, target market, and financial projections.
  • Business Overview: Introduce your comic book store, including its location, the types of comic books and related products you’ll sell, and any additional services like comic book events or collectibles.
  • Product and Services: Describe the range of comic books, graphic novels, merchandise, and services offered in your store, highlighting any special editions or rare items.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the local and regional market for comic books and collectibles, considering factors like customer demographics, comic book trends, and the demand for pop culture merchandise.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify and evaluate other comic book stores, online retailers, and entertainment shops in the area, emphasizing what sets your store apart.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your marketing strategies for reaching comic book enthusiasts, including advertising, social media promotions, and participation in conventions or events.
  • Management Team: Highlight the qualifications and passion of your team members, emphasizing their knowledge of comic book culture and retail operations.
  • Operations Plan: Detail the day-to-day operations of your comic book store, covering aspects like inventory management, customer service, store layout, and pricing strategies.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, revenue forecasts, operating expenses, and expected profitability for your comic book store.
  • Appendix: Include any supporting documents, such as a list of suppliers, a floor plan of your store, marketing materials, and financial statements, to strengthen your business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to comic book stores. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your comic book store will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a comic book store business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Comic Book Store Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a comic book store business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your comic book store business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Lightspeed, Zebra, or Manage Comics, to manage your inventory, purchases, and sales. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now” or “Order”. This can sharply increase purchases. 

Online Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Themed Events and Workshops: Host themed events or workshops related to popular comic book releases, attracting both avid fans and curious newcomers.
  2. Loyalty Programs: Implement a loyalty program offering discounts, exclusive merchandise, or early access to new releases for repeat customers.
  3. Community Partnerships: Forge partnerships with local businesses, such as cafes or gaming stores, to cross-promote each other’s products and services.
  4. Social Media Challenges: Engage your audience with creative challenges on social media, encouraging them to share their favorite comics or dress up as characters for a chance to win prizes.
  5. Limited Edition Releases: Generate excitement by offering exclusive, limited-edition comic book releases available only at your store, creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity.
  6. Themed Subscription Boxes: Introduce subscription boxes featuring curated collections of comics, merchandise, and special items, appealing to customers seeking a personalized experience.
  7. In-Store Gaming Nights: Host gaming nights with popular tabletop or card games based on comic book themes, fostering a sense of community among your customers.
  8. Artist Collaborations: Collaborate with local artists for exclusive, store-branded merchandise or limited-edition covers, showcasing and supporting local talent.
  9. Cosplay Contests: Organize cosplay contests or events, encouraging customers to dress up as their favorite characters and creating a vibrant, inclusive atmosphere in your store.
  10. Customer Reviews and Recommendations: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews or recommendations on online platforms, amplifying positive word-of-mouth and building trust with potential customers.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your comic book store meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your comic book store business could be:

  • A one stop shop for comic collectors
  • Rare and vintage comics for collectors
  • Get the newest releases first
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a comic book store business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in comic book stores for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in comic book stores. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

As your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a comic book store business include:

  • Store Clerks – customer service, make sales
  • Marketing Lead – create and implement marketing strategies
  • General Manager – scheduling, inventory management, accounting

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Comic Book Store – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

As a comic fan, you already have some valuable insight into the comic book market that can help you to be successful. With your own comic book store, you’ll be meeting like-minded people, having fun, and getting a share of a $16 billion market.

You’ve got the business know-how now, so you’re ready to stock up on comic books and get your store up and running!

Comic Book Store Business FAQs

Is a comic book store profitable?

The profitability of a comic book store depends on various factors such as the location, size, inventory, competition, and customer base. However, it is possible to run a profitable comic book store if managed effectively.

What is the growth potential of a comic book store?

The growth potential of a comic book store can vary depending on the location and the local demand for comic books. However, with the increasing popularity of superhero movies and TV shows, the demand for comic books has also increased, which can provide opportunities for growth in the industry. Additionally, comic book stores can also expand their offerings to include merchandise and collectibles related to popular franchises, further increasing their growth potential.

What type of business is a comic book store?

A comic book store is a retail business that specializes in selling comic books, graphic novels, and related merchandise. It is part of the entertainment industry and often appeals to a specific niche market.

Can you start comic book store on the side?

It is possible to start a comic book store on the side, but it may require a significant investment of time and money. Running a successful comic book store requires knowledge of the industry, marketing skills, and a strong customer base. Starting on a smaller scale, such as selling online or at conventions, can be a good way to test the waters before investing in a physical store.

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How to Start a Comic Book Store