keeping them happy, making a profit. Seem like hard work? It is. Seem like
a headache? It doesn’t have to be. Dave Bower, owner of Time Warp Comics
and Games, stays successful and has fun doing it. From hosting game
tournaments to getting in the movies, Dave shares some insight on staying
is your typical customer?
Dave Bower (DB): For
the most part, we have the typical comics and games store bunch - mostly
men between 18 and 35. But you can forget the stereotypical
lives-in-his-parent's-basement-and-can't-get-a-date profile: Our customers’
have a high 'regular guy' factor. The popularity of Pokemon, Harry Potter
and Spider-Man has helped younger customers find us. We maintain a
mom-friendly environment. More women are finding comics worth reading. We
are seeing a steady change to a more general audience.
long have you been in business?
March 1, 1987. That's 15 years! I'm still a teenager!
type of products do you sell?
strive to be the best full line comics and games specialty retailer. We
carry comic books, trade paperbacks, magazines, hardcover collections,
toys, statues, t-shirts, posters, card games, board games, role-playing
games, hobby games, strategy games, family games, party games, miniatures,
figure storage, paint, glue, brushes, tools, video, dvd, books, novels,
collecting supplies and a lot of other stuff.
than your stock, which is the obvious draw, how do you keep your customers
have learned that an advertising budget is as essential to business as the
rent. Cable television advertising is by far the most effective
advertising we have done. Our experience is that a commercial is a great
way for new customers to discover your store. A commercial also keeps your
store on the minds of your current customers and reminds them to pay you a
visit to see what is new. Television commercials are expensive, but are
totally worth the cost.
We have new comic
book and game releases every week. We also restock as much as three times
a week. Our customers know there is always something new to see. We also
have a broad selection. A chain retailer will carry Montgolfiere and
Formula De, but we will carry all the accessories and all other products
from that publisher.
know you have special programs after store hours (painting models, etc.)
Can you talk about this a little? Have you found that offering these types
of programs increases sales, or attain customer loyalty?
leagues, learning classes and clinics promote involvement in the gaming
pastime. We have hobby game, card game and board game leagues. We have
classes for card games and hobby games. We have clinics for painting
miniatures and building game scenery. And we host many, many tournaments.
A game league often requires weekly involvement because it is sequential
and competitive. Classes and clinics keep a new customer involved while
they learn the rules and skills required for their game. A new player may
find the learning curve of a game too steep to handle on their own and
could drop out of the hobby. Involved players get entertainment value from
their purchases and are more likely to buy additional items for their
game. This obviously helps sales, but also increases customer loyalty and
satisfaction with their purchases.
noticed your banner in the movie Chasing Amy, has this type of
exposure been beneficial for your business?
completely lucked into that exposure. Kevin Smith and I share a love of
Mike Allred's artwork. Kevin just happened to be filming the comic
convention scenes for Chasing Amy in Asbury Park the same weekend as we
had Mike at the store for a comic book signing. Kevin found out Mike was
on the east coast and a bunch of phone calls later, we were all making a
movie. To be honest, I don't think most people realize that the banner is
from a real store. Our customers that notice it get a real charge out of
it. It was fun following the cameramen around and placing my favorite
comics (like Hellboy, Concrete and The Tale of One Bad Rat) in the shots.
I still have the Madman comics you see Ben Affleck and Jason Lee holding
in the beginning of the movie. Any exposure for comics is going to be
beneficial in a general sense. It was a blast to do.
do you decide which items to stock?
is by far the most important and difficult part of my job. There is no
substitute for product knowledge. I consider the publisher's track record,
the talent involved, product support, production values, shipping
schedules and many other factors. Will it be fun? Will it look good? Is it
a good read? We usually stock all products relating to a core product. We
also try lots of new stuff. We want to have lots of cool stuff, but we
don't want to drown in unsalable product either. Product selection is the
most anxiety producing work that I do. But it is also the most immersive
and fun too!
you could remove one headache from your job, what would it be?
and manufacturers that can't keep a schedule or print a sufficient
quantity of product really hurt us. As a retailer, we work too hard to get
our customers to be put in a position where we say 'I don't have that' and
'I can't get that' and 'I don't know when we will have that'
you have a time or money saving tip that you would like to pass on to your
games manufacturers provide excellent product support - for free! DC
Comics, Games Workshop, Wizards of the Coast, Wizkids and Decipher all
have staff who are only there to help you, so use them! Many other game
and comic publishers are good with promo materials and event support.
Time Warp Comics and
Games is located at:
555 Pompton Ave.
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009