Shop Owner Interview
with Mike Giacoia of October Country Comics
Name: Mike Giacoia
Shop: October Country Comics
City: New Paltz, NY
Year Established: 1979
QRD – What is the first comic you ever bought?
Mike – INCREDIBLE HULK #108.
QRD – What the one comic book that would be the crown jewel in your collection... the comic equivalent of the holy grail for you?
Mike – AMAZING SPIDERMAN #1.
QRD – What is currently your favorite comic on the market & why?
Mike – I don’t have one favorite.
QRD – When did you first start working at a comic shop?
Mike – 1976.
QRD – How did you come to own your own shop & what do you wish you’d known beforehand?
Mike – My friend & I bailed out a small shop in NJ & owned it for three years.
QRD – Have there been any particular trends in the comic book market that you've found especially exciting &/or troubling since opening your shop?
Mike – Exciting: how the movies have made reading & enjoying comics more mainstream. Troubling: the constant events for events sake & the lack of character loyalty by newer customers.
QRD – Have you always focused on comics exclusively or do you find it a necessity to stock toys, games, etc. as well?
Mike – We’ve had to add gaming & toys because comics alone cannot support a store anymore.
QRD – Would you be interested in diversifying your inventory or do you think your store has successfully developed a personality that needs preserving?
Mike – We are much more diverse than we were in the past & continue to what our customers seem to want.
QRD – How much of a factor do you think the personality or atmosphere of a shop plays in establishing a customer base?
Mike – A lot. A clean store with helpful, personable people are a must. The old “comic book man” in the dark boys club is passé.
QRD – How active of a role does your shop take in social events like release parties, movie outings, etc.?
Mike – Not very. We tend to create our own events. Of course, FCBD is a must.
QRD – Do you do in store events with local comic creators or ones doing a book promotion tour? What do you feel has to be done for those events to be worth it to you?
Mike – We do have creator autograph signings & they’ve been very successful. Getting the word out is the toughest thing after securing the talent.
QRD – Do you believe these types of events create new readers?
Mike – I haven’t seen much evidence of it.
QRD – Have the comic book summer movie blockbusters & Free Comic Book Day been a boon to your store?
Mike – Recent movies have helped spike interest & FCBD is huge for us.
QRD – What advice do you have for publishers, writers, artists, & distributors that you think would create more sales?
Mike – Less line wide events. Less re-numbering. More dedication to well written long running titles.
QRD – Do you do things to try to cultivate local comic talent?
Mike – We do sell product by local talent when it’s presented to us.
QRD – When a new customer comes into the store with little experience in comics or having left comics for a decade, what do you to cultivate their interest in comics in general & your store in particular?
Mike – Our store sells itself. It’s something we’re proud of. As for cultivating interest, we’ve found just engaging the customer in conversation about their likes & dislikes (it helps if the person engaging in the conversation is personable with a good comic background) will usually get them interested in an item or two.
QRD – When people walk away from buying comics, what do you usually here as their complaint for leaving the hobby?
Mike – Money. Reboots. Renumbering.
QRD – What are your thoughts (as a business & as a fan) on digital comics?
Mike – I’ve always been in favor of anything that gets the medium into more hands, but as a store owner digital has not been a friend to us.
QRD – Can you tell us your opinion on Diamond Comics Distributors in regards to their exclusive deals with some of the bigger publishers... is it a monopoly?
Mike – Yes. We get nowhere near the service we did with multiple distributors & everything has costs attached to them that didn’t before.
QRD – Do you feel like the quality of service Diamond provides would keep you from trying a legitimate competitor if one were to spring up?
Mike – I think a distribution competitor in the current marketplace would be very difficult.
QRD – With the rise in Kickstarter comic projects, do you look for comics for the store on Kickstarter?
Mike – We haven’t.
QRD – When customers say they can get something for a better deal on Amazon, how do you react?
Mike – We don’t. They are entitled to buy where they want & matching Amazon’s prices is a quick trip to bankruptcy.
QRD – What do you think about CGC & the other professional grading companies? Are they a benefit or detriment to the hobby?
Mike – I personally hate it. I do see the benefit to it when buying on the internet, but the artificial price increases on common books is shameful. I also don’t like that they are no longer books -- since you can’t read them.
QRD – Do you think the drastic overhauls like DC's New 52 are fundamental for the big two to stay relevant?
Mike – No. Tweaking has always been necessary, but it seems reboots are more of a “jumping off” point now rather than “jumping on.”
QRD – How well do small press & local comics sell at your store?
Mike – Very well.
QRD – What do you think of the "wait for the trade" mentality?
Mike – They’re a different type of reader that we may not have without that format.
QRD – In the coming years do you see monthly comics or the trade paperback/graphic novel format being the dominant form of comics?
Mike – I think the monthly format will reach a price where it is no longer viable.
QRD – Do you buy high-end stock (e.g. hardcover deluxe editions & statues) on speculation for your store or only by special order?
Mike – Mostly special order, but we do keep our customers in the loop.
QRD – Does your store exhibit at comic book conventions? Do you think having a presence there is a crucial part of bringing in new customers?
Mike – Local cons only. We have gotten some visits from those shows.
QRD – If fifty years from now all comics are digital, do you think there will still be shops where people go to buy the physical relics that we all read today?
Mike – They’ll be like “rare book stores.” Most will be sold online.
QRD – If you weren't operating a comic book shop what would you be doing instead?
Mike – It’s been 30 years. I really don’t know.
QRD – Do you have bargain bins & what are the prices of things in them if so & where do the books in them come from?
Mike – Yes. 25 cent comics, $1.00 comics, & half off trades. Some are overstock, some purchased from people coming into the store.
QRD – What makes your store special to your community that another store transplanted from another city wouldn’t have going for it?
Mike – History.
QRD – What do you think is your store’s all time bestseller & why?
Mike – I have no idea. Probably Sandman trades or The Watchmen trade.
QRD – How has owning a store effected your own fandom?
Mike – Yes. It’s not as much fun to be a fan when you have to think “sellable” first.
QRD – Would you ever sell the store?
Mike – When I’m ready to retire, yes.
QRD – Anything else?
Mike – No. Just let me know when you’re done with this project. I’m curious to see how it reads.