Are You Being Served?

Previously on MacGuffin:

"A lot this comes back to the question of how much room is realistically left in the Direct Market. I don't know that I've got THE ANSWER, but I do have some thoughts."

Obviously I wouldn't have plunged into comics retailing if I thought I was doomed to failure. I am firmly of the belief that there is significant potential for expansion in the Direct Market. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of hard data available to confirm that as much more than a belief. I participated in a discussion at Newsarama in response to Brian Hibbs analysis of last year's Bookscan numbers during which a few people were swayed to share this opinion. Yet, the main support for the idea that the Direct Market can support many more stores basically consists of:

#1: Industry analyst Mel Thompson's assertion that the Direct Market is underserved:
"All of our proprietary research indicates that the Direct Market could
double or even triple in size by satisfying unmet consumer demand,
based on the current product mix and the existing propensity to consume
in the marketplace."

#2: Analyses like those by Mr. Hibbs and ICV2 which indicate the overall size of the market is growing, with growth occurring in both the bookstore and direct markets.

There are a few other similar studies on which to base the conclusion that the Direct Market has untapped potential, but as with most things in this industry, there's not a whole lot of hard data to prove any of this.

The opposite side of this coin is what I'm seeing thus far at MacGuffin. A large number of our customers have come in not because of the signage or any advertising but because we're located squarely between a Starbucks and a busy restaurant. There are a few Direct Market stores in the area already, though, so I have begun to wonder if I made a good decision on the specific location of the store and missed on the general area. There may very well be a saturation point that has been reached here while other areas receive almost no attention. In order to succeed, a store must offer something different from the other stores in the area, which I am firmly convinced that we do. Yet, the location has not led to nearly the growth we had anticipated (and I thought we had lowballed it). It certainly seems that the Direct Market is massively underserved. The difficulty is in determining where and how best to serve it.


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