HELP KEEP COMIX EXPERIENCE ALIVE!
San Francisco is about to raise minimum wage to the nation’s highest at $15/hour over the next three years – a 43% hike. While we at Comix Experience absolutely support a living wage, this unprecedented increase will put a huge pressure on small businesses like ours. To put it into raw numbers, given our current staffing (and we run very tight), we will soon have to generate an additional $80,000 a year in sales just to meet the rise.
Absorbing that kind of wage hike on our single biggest business cost (our talented people) is going to be a challenge. Historical rates of growth and the nature of selling comics (what we sell has a fixed cover price set by the publishers, therefore we can’t raise prices) means that it will be virtually impossible to raise that additional income organically.
Comix Experience is a healthy business, and has consistently been that way for all of the 26 years of its existence. However, like most small retail businesses, every dollar that is earned is invested directly back into the business. That means we will have to do something radical to generate the additional $80,000 in annual sales to meet this payroll mandate.
A Solution that Reflects our Core Values
Many other stores in San Francisco are obviously faced with the same issue, and each are approaching it in a manner that works for them. Some stores may choose to downsize, or cut staffing or even close all together. Others, like our compatriots at Borderlands Books, have turned to sponsorship to alleviate their issues.
When deciding what path to take to increase sales to meet the new wage requirements, we kept a few of our guiding principles in mind.
- Comix Experience would strongly prefer to figure out a way to let the market solve the problem rather than raw patronage. While we have no problem with a fund-raising type approach, for us creating a way to generate new customers and provide our loyal patrons with added value is better.
- Our solution would need to reflect the passion and curation we offer to you every single day. We don’t sell comics merely to make money from them – we sell comics because we literally can’t think of a better way to spend our days than communicating the boundless love we feel for great comics and their amazing creators! And we don’t just love comics – we really know them as well; we get the secret alchemy that makes the best comics so. Every member of our staff feels just the same way: We burn for comics, and we want to ignite your passion for the best that our medium has to offer!
- We want to build on our efforts to foster a build community through our stores. We seek to build a safe space so that regardless of your circumstance, regardless of your race, gender or creed, you’re welcome and participatory in your own fandom.
Therefore the path we’ve hit upon to try and save Comix Experience is this:
Comix Experience’s Curated Graphic Novel of the Month Club
Beginning in July 2015, every month the staff and I will use our passion and experience to choose the single best brand new graphic novel to give you. This book will always be either a stand-alone experience, or the first volume of a new series. As a member of the club, you’ll also be entitled to unique benefits that won’t be offered to anyone else:
- A curated selection of the best new graphic novel each month
- An invitation to a monthly live book club meeting and social event to discuss that book. We will record and stream the in-store meeting so club members all over the world can also participate.
- We will regularly have the writers and artists of each of our picks participate in our monthly club meetings, (e.g. in person, speaking and doing a live event, or a video chat to answer questions).
- For select in-person appearances at the store, you’ll receive an exclusive club-only invitation to attend a private after-hours event with the guest.
- We will create a social media group for members to discuss the book internationally
- Finally, we will provide you with nice swag (like posters or bookmarks) for the selected book wherever possible
Ways to Join the Club
- Month-to-Month: If you would prefer to take it one month at a time, the price will be $25 a month, a tremendous value considering all the benefits we are offering.
- Annual: If you are willing to commit to a full year, the price drops to just $20 a month! You can quit at any time for a full refund on your unused balance.
You can sign up today at www.graphicnovelclub.com or by calling either of our stores:
- Comix Experience on Divisadero St. at (415) 863-9258
- Comix Experience Outpost on Ocean Ave. at (415) 239-2669
- When does the club start?
- We’re launching this today in order to start monthly shipping of books for July – the month that the first (and largest) of the mandated wage hikes kicks in.
- What books will I get?
- Some months we might send you a more expensive book (If we had started this in February, the pick would have been Scott McCloud’s excellent “The Sculptor," which is $29.95), while some months it may be something less expensive – but every month you’ll get an accessible, compelling, and thoughtful piece of graphic fiction, and the value will be equivalent to the average price of a graphic novel over the course of the yearly plan.
- What if I don’t live in the Bay Area – can I still join?
- Yes, absolutely! We’ll just have to add $6 a month for shipping and handling for domestic US priority mail. We haven’t yet figured out a “one size fits all” solution for international shipping, but if you’re outside the US and you want to participate, call or e-mail, and we’ll work out an individual shipping solution for you.
- What if I can’t make it to a meeting or I live out of town?
- We will also record all club meetings so if you’re out of town you’ll still be able to enjoy that benefit.
- What happens if you sell more memberships than you need to meet the wage increase?
- In order to fully cover the shortfall, we need to sell 334 memberships at the yearly rate. If we beat that goal then we will use it to pay our excellent staff more than the minimum wage hike requires. This means we could really use your participation.
Looking Forward to Having You as Part of the Comix Experience Family
Our belief is that there are a lot of people who like comics, like the store, or simply want to help keep San Francisco iconoclastic and support small business. Perhaps you just don’t have the time to get into a comic store every month to stay on top of new releases.
The comics medium is truly in a second Golden Age right now, but with so much top notch, innovative work being released, how can you tell which new releases are the best? We are going to provide that curated experience for you.
I urge you to join us. If you know someone else who would like to subscribe, I also urge you tell them about this service (or give them a gift subscription). Please help us spread the word! Each and every person truly matters in reaching our goal, and keeping Comix Experience alive to continue to take comics into a better place well into the future. On behalf of myself and the staff of Comix Experience, thank you so much for your support!
If you have any questions, please feel free to call either store, or reach out to me directly.
Brian Hibbs, Head Cheese, firstname.lastname@example.org