Diamond Comics Retailer Best Practice Awards 2021 Announced

The Diamond Best Practices Awards (BPAs) for comics shops were voted on at last weekend's Diamond Retail Summit, for the categories of  Back Issue Display, Community Involvement, In-Store Signage, and Store Layout. The Diamond nominees can be found here.

Diamond Best Back Issue Display: Winner

Generation X Comics
Bedford, TX
We have been unsatisfied with our back issue displays for probably 25 years. During the pandemic we decided to finally do something about it. So I talked to several other retailers with nice displays and decided to use file cabinets for my back issues. I also added shelves above the cabinets to add a pop of color and to make them more distinctive. Plus I added large signs to the sides of the racks to draw more attention to the area. Finally I added some shelves to stand up glass cases in order to display my more expensive back issues.    The change was dramatic. The area is very visible and screams "BACK ISSUES HERE" to anyone nearby. Back issue sales doubled almost immediately. This change impacted the look of the section and we've received rave reviews from customers.

Diamond Best Community Involvement

Famous Faces and Funnies
West Melbourne, FL
Famous Faces is a store that prides itself on its community involvement. Over the last 27 years, we've grown from a booth in the flea mall to an 11,000 SF pop culture superstore and that would have been impossible without our community. We love our community so much that we try to be as involved as possible.   Pre-Pandemic  Before Covid 19 changed the world, Famous Faces would be at any event we were invited to or could make space for in our ever increasingly busy schedule. Any chance we had to put a comic into someone's hand and introduce ourselves, we would. Movie theater premieres, weekly trivia games (written and hosted by FFF staff with gift cards and graphic novels as prizes), school events and field trips, community events like Archeology for Autism, Zombie Walk, First Responder Day, etc would all be worked into our monthly schedules. It wasn't often that we would sell at these events, it was just a way to meet our community and get people interested in comics and say "Hey, there's a cool place you can fit in". Without fail, in the week after one of these events, we would see new faces we met at the event come in. Not only would we show up to any community event that would have us, but we gave back to our community in any way we can. We've hosted charity events, donated to dozens of Kickstarter projects, given away thousands of dollars in books, toys, graphic novels, and more for donations, donated proceeds to customers who were in need, and championed at-risk kids in our community through reading. Why? Because we owe it to our community to take care of them like they've taken care of us. When you find yourself in a position to do something, you should and we always seek out opportunities to do so.      During Pandemic That said, the pandemic certainly changed how we interacted with our community. We voluntarily closed from indoor shopping for eight months in 2020, but we never forgot about our community. We set up a curbside station and offered contactless curbside pickup for our regular nine hours we'd be open, we delivered comics to those in the surrounding area twice a week for no additional charge, and we launched a huge live sale schedule over Facebook to continue to bring comics and collectibles to our community. We even threw in free bonus sketches drawn by talented local artists themed around what they bought. The community met us with intense enthusiasm, and we've had multiple people tell us how much joy and stability the sales brought to their lives. It wasn't just about buying something and supporting a small business, it was about the comradery that developed and the distraction from the chaos that made the sales successful.   We've only recently gotten back to being fully open, but we are very grateful that we made it through the worst of it because of our incredible community. Famous Faces is a community in and of itself now, and we wouldn't change that for the world.


Diamond Best In-Store Signage

Challengers Comics + Conversation
Chicago, IL
Challengers' interior signage philosophy is simple: make it easy to read, and less is more.  All or our signs are printed (not hand-written), either in-store by us or at a local photocopy place. We try to keep the branding on point and that includes using our logo often, and lots of red. Signage visible in these photos: We have two 42" monitors that showcase the week's New Releases, as well as a Counter Mat of the week's releases for people to double-check as they get rung up. Each section has a header sign stating what that section contains, and that includes Single-Issue comics on the walls and Graphic Novels on the bookshelves, complete with characters found on those shelves. Flyers for Upcoming Events are posted around the store and are available for people to take at the counter. Highlights from the current Previews are on the back of our register monitor to keep people informed of some new series they can (hopefully) pre-order. There's plenty more you can't see, but hopefully these 4 photos give you an idea of how our interior signage looks.

Best Store Layout

Acme Comics
Greensboro, NC
We are closely approaching our 40th year of operation here at Acme Comics. With that the store has seen many changes. Most recently with social distancing in mind because of the COVID-19 pandemic we have had to rethink and restructure the entire flow of the store, even converting what was once a storage room to more sales floor space. We have made sure everything in the shop is clearly labeled and visible from the moment you walk through our front door. This Week's Comics has a spotlighted center display that flows into 2 Weeks Ago, 3 Weeks Ago, and 4 Weeks Ago, giving customers easy access to a full month worth of comics in one space. The use of modular displays in the main room such as spinner racks and shelving allows us to highlight best sellers and topical products such as our "Disney+" display. From there the store flows into our second room that houses our All-Ages section, back stock, dedicated book shelves for publishers, as well as a well-stocked independent section and manga selection. All of that then leads into the former storage room now "Acme Back-Cave" where we house our vintage and collectible comics. We're extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish. Thanks for your consideration!

Dave Hawksworth Memorial Comic Shop Improvement Award

The 2021 Dave Hawksworth Memorial Comic Shop Improvement Award that grants $5,000 to a local comic shop owner to be used for improvements to their business, goes to BuyMeToys in Mishawaka, Indiana. The Heying family of BuyMeToys plan to use the award to build a stronger, separate graphic novel section in their store, focusing on new audiences and will purchase new shelving and inventory, expanding to more front-facing comic book display in order to better catch the attention of new readers

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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