Little Island Comics has opened in Toronto, Ontario, and it may be the world’s first comic book store specifically targeted to children. It quietly opened this week, with a more formal grand opening planned in the near future. The store is run by The Beguiling, an acclaimed comic book store in Toronto that has been open for 25 years now.
What a smart move!
Comic books needs kids, and fortunately more educators and parents than ever have been realizing that comics are a great reading and education tool for kids. But as you might’ve noticed, some of the material isn’t exactly appropriate for younger readers. Having a store exclusively dedicated to reaching this specific demographic, parents have a peace of mind that only the right material will reach their kids’ hands. And with workshops and other events planned for the store, it should build a wonderful community that encourages kids’ creativity and imagination.
It’s also great for a retailer to get so specific and specialized. With the digital side of comics growing, stores will have to find a good reason for customers to stop by beyond them carrying as much as everything that they can fit between their walls. Because there’s no competing with Amazon.com‘s warehouses or comiXology‘s ever-deepening library. So, survival will depend on the ability to engage customers and the larger community in specialized retailing like children’s comics. Or maybe literary and art comics, and mini-comics. A unique experience will be more important and more valuable than simply having every volume of Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America.
Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles has done a great job at this. It helps that they have a massive space to work with, which gives them a much larger selection. But they also have international comics and mini-comics and more experimental material. And most of all, they’ve become a destination for events. Stand-up comedians regularly perform there now. Popular podcasts regularly do live broadcasts from the store. An art gallery in the back displays comics art exhibits of varying themes. Workshops are held there. Every week, there are a large number of events being held there. Meltdown Comics is a venue as well as a store. They are a physical destination that gives patrons more than any online shopping can give. Other stores in Los Angeles have similarly transformed themselves but none on the scale and success as Meltdown.
I’m hoping Little Island Comics has just as much success, and helps strengthen the children’s comics market.
Full press release after the jump. (more…)