Annie Bulloch, 8th Dimension Comics, Texas

You know Annie from her excellent Cook Your Comics recipes, here on WWAC — but a number of our twitter followers (f’rex: this one) also know her from her role at 8th Dimension Comics, where she’s co-owner. Putting her shop hat on, she answered our FCBD survey!
How long have you been doing FCBD?

We opened in June 2011, so our first FCBD was in 2012. This year will be our third.

What does it represent for you?
It’s one of the busiest days of the year for us. We see a lot of first-time customers, especially people bringing their kids. We always have customers lined up on the sidewalk outside waiting for us to open – not just a few, but probably 40+ people. I didn’t get to count last year, but I know they were lined up all the way down to the Chinese restaurant at the end of our shopping center. And it’s hot outside by May! But everyone seems to have a great time. A lot of kids get their very first comics on FCBD.
Do you build a larger event around it?
In 2013, FCBD fell on May 4th, which is Star Wars Day. We had members of the local chapter of the 501st Legion come out in costume to hang out at the shop, take photos, etc. That was a lot of fun. It’s such a busy event that we don’t do much else in the first few hours of the day because the store is so packed with people. I know some stores have signings for FCBD, but I can’t imagine trying to wrangle all that at the same time given how many people are there already.
Does FCBD result in a same day sales bump or new customers?
Yes to both! People are great about picking up their free comics and then shopping for other books and goodies. That much traffic definitely gives us a sales bump. FCBD does attract new customers, and some of them become regulars. It’s a good way for people to discover us, or to try out comics in general.
Do you try to make your shop particularly welcoming on FCBD? How?

We make an effort to be extra welcoming every day, so we mostly have to scale up our staff to give the service we like to provide to a much greater number of people. We ask every employee who can be there to work that morning so we have enough people to greet customers, answer questions, and help keep things going smoothly. Even though it’s crowded, we always manage to keep things cheerful so the customers feel relaxed and are happy to wait their turn. Everyone cooperates and gets along.

What do you hope for from future FCBDs? What could they do to make it more special/effective?

We’re planning to expand our shop this year, so we should have a LOT more space to work with by FCBD 2015. That will make it much easier for us to provide a more comfortable customer experience. Or maybe twice as many people will show up! It gets bigger every year. It’s a spectacularly effective draw for us, so I don’t know how they could improve on it.