GameStop Explains Their Decision to Start Selling Comic Books

Earlier this month it was announced that GameStop would start selling comics in their stores. Now, they're explaining their decision to enter the comics book business.

In an interview with io9, GameStop's director of consumer products Clint Walker said that the retailer's decision to sell comic books in select stores was an evolution of their current business, but also influenced by the types of people who shop there.

"I've been in my role as the director of consumer products for the last few years," Walker explained. "We define consumer products as toys and collectibles. The decision to start selling comic books in the U.S. domestic GameStop and Think Geek stores is because, for us, it's a very natural adjacency. We've got that collector fan in our environment."

And the great thing there for us is the purchasing power we have, [and] the loyalty programs we can bridge across to the comic book fans, so it's a true opportunity. We've hired a few subject matter experts on our end. They've got a couple great years of product knowledge that we can really lean against. But the opportunity for us is we've got a great selling culture. Our number-one focus for our stores is building relationships, which we just see as a natural fit."

Walker also noted that they feel like there's a great opportunity for GameStop to step into the market, especially since some of their competition is no longer in the picture.

"As for comic shops themselves, we know it's an opportunity. Some of our competition has gone to the wayside, like Hastings or some of the other, smaller operations," he said. "But, in general, [this move] very much aligns with our goal of being the fast fashion in pop culture. There's just a tremendous opportunity as we continue to grow our partnerships with Marvel and DC and some of the anime properties we've been introducing."

It's interesting to note that part of the reason behind GameStop's comic book initiative lies with James Parker. Parker now works for GameStop, but he previously helmed the comic and collectibles initiative for Hastings. That part of the store chain was successful, though ultimately the rest of the store couldn't keep up, resulting in the chain closing its doors in 2016. Parker previously told Bleeding Cool that GameStop had partnered with Diamond Distribution and would be carrying a small selection of comics in a spinner rack in 40 stores.

"We are indeed getting into comics, as a retail test forum," Parker told Bleeding Cool. "Comics are often a part of our promotional entertainment industry environment, including video games – we can learn from this tribal knowledge. We have indeed partnered with Diamond to carry a small selection of comics in 40 stores utilizing their new spinner rack. The comics are mostly from Marvel and DC with a focus on key series and titles. This is just a small launch to bring comics to some of our collectibles stores as they fit with the current trend of Collectibles that are performing in the market. Should this prove successful, we may consider rolling out to additional stores in the future but plan to keep it limited to the spinner rack for the foreseeable future. Of course, you can expect to see some exclusive variants from us in the future."

According to Walker, GameStop plans to give the initiative plenty of time to prove is success, too. When it came to a time frame to measure success, Walker didn't really have one.

"Yeah, no -- we're actually committed in our agreement," he said. "It will be multiple quarters. It's not going to be a short-term solution. We understand that, early on, there could be some pain points involved. But, we're absolutely committed to understanding this market and bringing something unique and different in the market that doesn't exist today."

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