Local comic book store sales jump during Comic-Con
South Bay comic book sellers are expecting a small boost in sales this week as a sold-out 2017 Comic-Con sends local fans who don’t have tickets to stores in their neighborhood.
“My sales are actually much better during Comic-Con,” Comics-N-Stuff owner Ed Sandburg said in a phone interview. Comics-N-Stuff is a small chain of local comic book stores founded in National City with stores in Chula Vista and Otay Mesa.
Sales were dwindling at Sandburg stores in the early years of Comic-Con because customers were buying at the convention. Now that it’s gotten so big and sold out so quickly, Sandburg says local fans aren’t going to Comic-Con as much as they used to.
The convention is expected to draw more than 130,000 attendees to San Diego this year.
“So instead of going to Comic-Con, our regular customers will stop by our stores and they’ll go downtown to relax and people watch,” he said. “And that brings a lot of out-of-town visitors to the stores.”
While Comic-Con may create a mid-year sales spike for San Diego County comic book stores, there’s a downside, Sandberg said.
“Comic-Con is good for the city and for the industry, but now it’s not so good for the fans and the little collectors who started it,” Sandburg said. “Now you have Marvel and the conglomerates taking up 20 booths and there’s the movies in the big mega booths, and they’re all taking up the little spaces.”
Comics-N-Stuff hosts a vendor booth at Comic-Con every year, and Sandburg has attended since the mid-1970s, when it was just a small convention of comic book collectors and vendors in a hotel showroom.
“It’s too big for the little guy now,” Sandburg said. “If you’re an individual who used to go there with your collection to sell and trade, you can’t do that anymore.”
It’s the passion of collectors and fans that keeps stores like Sandburg’s open in the age of online shopping when big book retailers like Barnes & Noble have been forced out of brick-and-mortar storefronts. Sandberg said comic book collectors and fans want their books to be in pristine condition, and comics purchased through Amazon and other sites often arrive damaged.
“We still have hardcore collectors and we try to find the hard-to-find items for them,” he said. “We also do a lot of collectibles and action figures. It’s a one-stop shop. We have everything from tiny Hot Wheels to life-size Yodas.
While “hardcore collectors” are more likely to attend more intimate comic book conventions like the Phoenix Comicon and WonderCon in Anaheim, South Bay comic book fans still head to downtown San Diego or to their local comic book store to absorb the buzz created by Comic-Con. , Sandburg said.