After 26 years on Divisadero, Comix Experience is reaching out to its community for support.
In a recent email to fans, the store announced the launch of a graphic novel-of-the-month club, which was created to counterbalance the additional income needed to adhere to San Francisco's new minimum wage law.
"While we at Comix Experience absolutely support a living wage, this unprecedented increase will put a huge pressure on small businesses like ours," said owner Brian Hibbs in his email announcing the club. He noted that the store "will soon have to generate an additional $80,000 a year in sales" just to meet increased costs. "Absorbing that kind of wage hike on our single biggest business cost (our talented people) is going to be a challenge."
"Historical rates of growth and the nature of selling comics ... means that it will be virtually impossible to raise that additional income organically," Hibbs stated. Because of this, the store will have to do "something radical" to make up the remaining funds needed to pay employees the new minimum wage, which is where the Graphic Novel Club comes in.
While Hibbs says he has no problem with a fundraising approach, "for us creating a way to generate new customers and provide our loyal patrons with added value is better", and he wanted to find a solution that reflects "the passion and curation we offer to you every single day."
Owner Brian Hibbs. (Photo: Stephen Jackson / Hoodline)
To that end, the Graphic Novel Club will offer graphic novel fans the chance to receive a "single best brand new graphic novel," selected each month by employees of Comix Experience. Each book will be either a standalone piece, or the first in a graphic novel series (so you won't be receiving the random book six of a series you haven't started yet).
There are two options for subscription—a month-to-month subscription that costs $25 and will provide you with one Comix Experience-selected graphic novel per month, either for store pickup or delivery (with a $6 delivery fee). For those who like a little commitment, there's a $240 annual subscription option.
In order to succeed in balancing out the increased financial costs, Comix Experience needs to sell 334 memberships at a yearly rate. If the store exceeds that number, it'll then be able to pay its employees more than minimum wage.
Comix Experience isn't the first San Francisco business to be forced to get creative in order to survive the wage increase. After the new costs threatened to close the doors at Borderlands Books on Valencia Street, the bookstore launched "sponsorships" of the store, offering patrons swag, event passes and first dibs on collector's items as incentives to contribute.
Subscriptions for the Graphic Novel Club are being accepted starting today, though the first issues won't be shipped out until July, when the first round of the minimum wage hikes kicks in. Find more info online, or swing by the store any day between 10am and 8pm.
"Each and every person truly matters in reaching our goal," said Hibbs, "and keeping Comix Experience alive to continue to take comics into a better place well into the future.
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