Independent retailers are riding out the economic storm better than some of their larger counterparts, says a comic book store owner who this week has celebrated tewn years in business.
Jared Myland owns OK Comics in the 19th century Thorntons Arcade said small independent businesses like his were better placed to ride out the economic storm than their larger counterparts. In an interview with Leeds Online, he said:
“If I need to change things in my shop or if I get a problem I can change it that day, whereas larger chains might have to wait weeks or months to go through the system before they get to do anything about it.
“Being small has its benefits - people have asked me if I’d like to open up outlets elsewhere, but what sets us apart from chains is our customer service - we’ve won awards for our customer care and the help and advice we give people. It’s difficult to duplicate that personal touch in larger chains, so setting up other outlets is something I’ll never do. You can lose touch with your customers. I wouldn’t want to lose our identity.
“Perhaps smaller businesses are the way forward, I don’t know. People who work in smaller shops tend to love it as they have a large stake in making it work - they tend to be the owners.”
Jared, 37, from Cross Gates, said a low point in running the business came in July 2010 when protracted refurbishment work at the historic Thorntons arcade meant OK Comics nearly went out of business due to lack of footfall - the problems were covered over on Guardian Leeds. “We were really close to going out of business,” he said. “I guess that’s the sort of thing which can affect small businesses like mine.”
Jared put on a party last night in the shop and arcade to celebrate his ten years in business. Pizza and a special beer courtesy Leeds Brewery were at the event, which was attended by over 100 people.
Jared said the business started ten years ago when he started OK Comics as a mail order firm working from home. He took a unit in the old Market Street Arcade then moved to Thornton’s Arcade about eight-and-a-half years ago. He said:
“I’ve always loved comics, they were a massive part of my life when I was growing up.”
As part of the celebrations his customers have chosen their top 80 books and comics over the past decade. Jared’s put the collection on a special display for customers to browse through. He said:
“It’s interesting to see the different choices from different eras. It’s quite a collection.”
Jared said business was doing very well - strong titles from Marvel and DC Comics had boosted takings - and blockbuster movies like Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises help generate interest.