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November 19, 2006

ComicsPRO Discussion Continues

In a short posting last Monday about DC Comics giving $5000 to the retailer group ComicsPRO, I wondered out loud about what I considered a smallish membership figure of 80 retailers with 120 storefronts. I asked for commentary. Several retailers were nice enough to write me, some for attribution.

Christopher Butcher's comment can be found in the original link. Joe Field and Kenny Penman comment here. Up today is Amanda Fisher.


Amanda Fisher, Owner, Muse Comics & Games, Missoula

I just saw the posts on Comics Reporter about ComicsPRO, and I'd like to give you some background information as well, if I could.

For the size of the membership, ComicsPRO hasn't been officially up and running much over a year (the first memberships were due for renewal in July) as we did our first major announcement of the organization at SDCC in 2005. The last nationwide comic book trade association was PACER, and I'm not sure how long that association officially lasted, but it was over 5 years and they topped out at a membership of under 80. We're just starting out, and already have more members to begin with than any other official organization that has existed for comic book retailers (there have been several regional collectives over the years as well). Traditionally, getting comic book retailers together to do more than just talking hasn't been easy--which is why a trade association has been in the general discussion so long but there hasn't been a long-standing one to date. While I'm happy that our membership is constantly growing, I'm proud of the retailers who have already begun to work together to improve all of our businesses.

When it comes to the non-US members, as Joe already said, to get any sort of discounted benefit we need members and volume first to negotiate the deals. We had many US retailers from the CBIA forum join to create the organization before we could get the credit card processing or health insurance deals that we have now. As our membership grows larger, our power to get better discounts than the ones we have will of course increase. We are still working to increase our list of benefits to members beyond the two that get mentioned, and we'll always continue to do so. Our focus will come from the make up of our membership, but we will strive to create benefits to improve the businesses of comic retailers in any country.

As for the website, we don't have our articles and bylaws listed to scare or confuse potential members; we have very basic ones listed because we are a not-for-profit trade association and we were advised to make those available publicly. We have a button on the start page for a list of member retailers, though it isn't complete yet since it's an opt-in feature and we're still receiving member replies!

The work done for ComicsPRO is all entirely volunteer, so you won't be seeing any board members kicking it in fancy hotels. You will see them giving many hours of their time every week to help push a trade association forward, and they do so because they believe that retailers really can benefit from working together.

In our first year and a half of putting together the organization, starting a membership, negotiating what benefits we do have, planning retailer programming at San Diego Comic Con and appearing at other conventions, we have sent introductory mailings to several hundred retailers, telephoned, met with at cons, and come into the stores of many more. Joe and Brian have written many times in Comics & Games Retailer urging retailers to join, Chris Powell has personally appeared at Diamond Summits and comics conventions, and we've advertised ourselves at conventions and retailer gatherings around the country. Sadly, though, that doesn't mean that we've been able to invite each store individually, though I'm sure as we get more volunteers and resources, we'd like to!

We haven't had any time, yet, to develop a slant for the organization, but if we do develop one it will come from the membership and I would again like to encourage any retailer who wants a say in the direction of this trade association to be invovled in it! We have a basic framework now, but the bylaws, the board members, and the programs will change and reflect the decisions of our members over the years. We have our first election coming up at the 2007 meeting, and the current board is now working on new nominees and the call for interested potential board members--now is a good time to get involved and take a leadership role!

Because I do the administrative paperwork for the association, I get to interact with many of the members personally and I'd like to say again that I'm proud of and always impressed by so many of the retailers in this industry. I know that there are many more progressive, thoughtful and hardworking retailers who aren't members yet (as evidenced by who writes to your site) and our goal is to get all of them involved, so please consider this an invitation for all of them to join.

If any retailers would like to receive more information about the association, or if they have any questions about the programs, please contact any of us who are involved!

The board members are:

Joe Field, Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Michael Drivas, Big Brain Comics, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Chris Powell, Lone Star Comics, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Gary Dills, Phoenix Comics, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Brian Hibbs, Comix Experience, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

And myself,
Amanda Fisher, Muse Comics, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Thanks, Tom, for asking the questions.


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posted 8:04 pm PST | Permalink

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