Friday 9 April 2010

We Fear Change

My local comic shop is in Brighton, a ten to fifteen minute train ride from where I live. It doesn't open late of an evening, so if I want to grab whatever comics I'm interested in buying that week, I have to pop over during my lunch break. (I could set up a pull list and not worry about missing out on particular comics – some do sell out quite quickly – but often these days I never quite know what I'll be getting until I actually look at the comic itself. Also, I can't be arsed.) So that's nearly half an hour on trains, plus about twenty-five minutes' walk either side, which leaves me about five minutes in the actual shop.

So you can see I don't have an awful lot of time for actual shopping. Which is why the comic shop's latest overhaul has slightly pissed me off. See, they've added a first floor, and that's where they've moved the new comics to, leaving the ground floor free for graphic novels and the kinds of things that entice in passing trade. I've seen this happen before in a few comic shops: the regular weekly comic shoppers get treated almost like second class citizens, shunted off to an upper floor or basement as if they're an embarrassment.

Fair enough, you might say. If the shop thinks they can do better offering more space for the casual buyer, that's their prerogative. And I don't necessarily disagree with that, although it's worth bearing in mind that the regular weekly comics nutters (like me) are still the lifeblood of any comic shop, offering guaranteed sales on a reasonably predictable basis. Take us out of the equation and it's debatable how long a comic shop could survive.

Now, having to climb a set of stairs probably doesn't sound like the greatest obstacle ever encountered by man. And really, it's not. But it does ever so slightly eat into the amount of time I have available for comic shopping. I need to be straight in and out pretty much. And I'm not alone there. But fine, it's OK, I can work with it. However, the comic shop has also decided to arrange the new comics, not along the walls where they'd be easiest to browse, but on low shelves in the middle of the room – and on the ends of those shelves, making it really awkward to see the comics, especially if someone's loitering in front of them. There's not a lot of space in the room, so all it takes is one person to be standing there and you can't actually get to the comics without pushing past.

It's bloody annoying. I hope they change the layout soon. The way things are, I really don't need much of an excuse to stop going to the comic shop altogether. This could turn out to be that excuse.

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