Counter Culture Spotlight: Aw Yeah Comics!

This month we take a look at one of the newer shops in the Counter Culture Clique, Aw Yeah Comics! in Skokie, Illinois. They may not have been open for as long as some of the other shops we’ve talked to but they bring with them a ton of experience, professionalism and a pretty cool mission statement.

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What’s your name and what’s your position at the store?

Marc Hammond. I am the General Manager, as well as one of the co-owners of AW YEAH COMICS.

Where are you located?

4933 Oakton Street, Skokie, IL 60077. Just a few minutes walk from the Yellow Line train that goes between Skokie and north Chicago.

How long have you been in business?

This is our 15th month.

The Aw Yeah Comics Crew: Franco Aureliani, Marc Hammond and Art Baltazar.

The Aw Yeah Comics Crew: Franco Aureliani, Marc Hammond and Art Baltazar.

How many employees do you have and are they a mix of full & part-timers?

One full timer…. me. Seven days a week. We have several people who help during events or emergencies.

How did your store get started?

I have been friend’s with Art & Franco, my partners, for years. During that time, I worked at a large comic and toy store just outside of Orlando, Fl. I wanted to pursue a new challenge, at the same time they were thinking of perhaps opening a store. The timing really just kind of fell into place.

How has having a pair of comic professionals involved in the shop changed how you do business, if at all?

The three of us are always on the same page in how we treat the customers, how we present the comics, and the types of events we like to do. Family friendly, welcoming to new readers, and an atmosphere that is fun. That is the type of experience you get when you see Art & Franco at a convention or signing, so it was crucial that we created that feel here in the store.

Do you carry any non-comics merchandise like toys, games (video, card or board), accessories or other unique items?

We carry toys, t-shirts, posters, and are starting to move into other related merchandise like statues, and other collectibles.

AwYeahFreeComicBookDayAw Yeah Comics seems to have a particular focus on young readers and all ages books. Was there a particular reason for that kind of specialty?

Kids are the future of comics. They are the future of…well… everything. The next generation of readers also has the next generation of creators. It is imperative to interest and inspire them now.

What kind of pull-file system do you operate? What kind of discounts, requirements, etc?

Our sub program is free of additional charge. Customers need only have at least one ongoing title on their list to keep their file open, and to come in at least once a month to clear their file completely. In return, they receive 10% off all new comics, back issues, magazines, trades, and hardcovers. They can add or delete items any time via e-mail, in person, or over the phone. They also get Previews at $3, instead of the $4.50 cover price.

awyeahfirstanniversaryHow do you rack your comics at the shop? By publisher, by genre, alphabetically, by “family” of titles? Do you have a dedicated new release section or use shelf talkers to point out new releases?

We have a new releases wall. Once they leave that wall, they move to our other recent releases section. We keep three issues or three months worth, for those titles shipped bi-weekly, or mini series’ in their entirety, on the wall before they are moved to the back issues.

What’s that worst thing a comic shop can do?

Ignore and/or belittle new customers. Not paying any attention, or even worse, berating someone for their choice of comics.

You’ve only been open for a short while but how is the direct market different than what you expected when the shop first opened?

I had a pretty good handle on it, since I had been doing this for 11 years before opening the store.

awyeahfirstanniversary01Fair enough. What’s one thing you would change about the direct market?

Marvel and DC should be leading the charge, bringing all of their forces to bear, on creating and sustaining comics geared for children, in order to create a new, and life long lasting readership. Too many of the comics put out by the Big Two are way too dark for anyone under 16. The movies and cartoons are great, but shouldn’t they have the same experience that our generation had growing up with comics. Easier said than done, I know, but they should be putting more effort into than I currently see.

What has been a surprise hit for you in your store lately?

I was surprised and very pleased by the amount of people listening to longtime readers of ASTRO CITY. We had a ton of new readers come looking for it. Luckily, we had the copies we needed.

At the end of the day what keeps you coming back to this job?

Two of my great loves. Comics and People. The interactions created when I get to help one find the other make my day, every time.

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Who ARE these people!?

Thacher E. Cleveland is a contributing writer & columnist for PanelsOnPages.com, co-host of the Super-Fly Comics & Games PodCast, novelist & comic creator. Originally from New Jersey and previously from Yellow Springs, Ohio, he currently lives in Chicago. You can find him on Twitter (@demonweasel), tumblr, his personal website and even on Google+

Comments (2)

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  1. Juan Davila says:

    Marc is an amazing store owner. I look forward each and every week to my visits to pick up my books at this store.

  2. jaydee74 says:

    Nice article. If I lived in the area, I would totally buy from that store.

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