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Newport Comic Book Store Thrives With Social Media

Continuation of June 5 interview with Wayne Quackenbush from Newport’s Annex Comics, see part 1 here

NIM: As a marketer of a narrow-niche store, it must be challenging to get new customers. How has Facebook helped?

WQ: People visit the shop, visit my website, or E-bay store just to meet the eccentric person behind the Facebook page.

NIM: Tell us what they’ll find if they make an appearance in your store.

WQ: A mess. Stacks and walls of comics and product, the aforementioned local artwork, masks, clown dolls, and DVDs everywhere.

NIM: What’s the misconception about comics?

WQ: Some Americans have the opinion that comics are for kids or for the unintelligent, or they think the store will provide a rarified atmosphere of hipster elitist geekdom. Comics used to be for everybody and, in many countries of the world, they still are. They are unique artwork by a single creator or small group of creators telling an immersing and synergistic story in a way that is not possible in any other medium.

NIM: You’re a little in love with the industry, and I think that authenticity translates on your Facebook and web pages. Describe graphic love, the comic-book kind.

WQ: Comics allow an imaginative freedom in way that isn’t seen in films or in video games. There is an aesthetic pleasure in the pictures that isn’t present when reading fiction. With comics, the reader has to imagine the sounds, smells, and motion that are implied by the language and vision portrayed.

NIM: Everything has changed so much in the past 10 or 15 years. How have comic books changed?

WQ: That would take an essay. Simply, the 32-page full-color slim pamphlet remains the same but with more sophisticated coloring and better paper. But other forms of presentation of the art form have come into being from graphic novels, which are a thick collection of individual and previously published stories.

NIM: What’s popular with the Kids now?  Zombies seem to be a big theme. I don’t get it.

WQ: Zombies are best used as a metaphor in fiction … they can symbolize the horror of “the other,” rampant consumerism, the pervasive anti-intellectualism of American society, the infantile and lizard brain hunger that lives in everyone, the hive mind … And everyone has a lingering fear of being bitten really hard.

NIM: Yes, it makes sense. Hey, do you have any plans for cyber-expansion?

WQ: I’m running four different Facebook accounts: my personal account, the store account, the store small business account, and the Annex Art Society page, so I really haven’t had time. Luckily, I have a Webmaster in charge of the store website.

NIM: I know it’s not polite to talk about religion or politics, but in business, it’s always polite to talk about money!  Has social media helped your business financially?

WQ: Yes.

NIM: See? That’s sort of the point that gets lost because social media is so much fun. I know you’re not a fan of hash tags, but #NIMRI is one hashtag you should “follow” on Twitter. You’ll learn so much about even more social media opportunities to promote your brand.

WQ: I found out about NIM from friends. The acronym reminds me a little of Nine Inch Nails. I would attend those meetings.

NIM: Hashtag NIN!  That’s funny. Well, NIM can help you learn search optimization, to spread the word effortlessly and worldwide about the Annex, so we look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.

NIM: ListenWayne, it was a pleasure talking to you about the Annex. I’m really happy that you have taken the social media bull by the horns, and it’s wonderful to learn you’re also helping kids tap their creativity. #socialmedia

To learn more about Annex Comics, or immerse yourself in zombie-lit, please FB friend Wayne on Facebook or visit his website at annexcomics.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Annex Comics Taps Social Media to Boost its Base

Around since the 80s, Annex Comics flourishes in 2012, due in large part to the way in which owner Wayne Quackenbush took the social media bull by the horns to promote the fine (and funny) art of comic books.

Here’s Part I of our two-part interview.

NIM: Wayne Quackenbush, I can’t think of a better name to stick onto a Web domain than Quackenbush, but you’re Annex Comics. How long has the Annex been around?

WQ: I started working at the Annex in 1994, and bought it from the owner in 1998. I had an extensive background in retail, having managed several photo-processing and video stores in NYC.

NIM: What’s photo processing? Just kidding. So you’re a savvy retailer who likes new media. Are you a wave-rider in your business, or does the Annex rely on your fan base/repeat customers for its success?

WQ: We’ve ridden through fads over the years, made a lot of changes and experimented with product as much as possible. I introduced video sales and rentals, for instance. The Annex was the first store in the state to go all DVD, and now we have dinosaur status because we’re the last store in Rhode Island to offer DVD rentals.

NIM: That’s very cool, Wayne. I miss the excitement of going to a place and renting something. Speaking of dinosaurs, a few businesses still have yet to embrace social media as a genius marketing tool. But you have. Tell us how you market Annex these days, and how that’s different from before.

WQ: I used to run occasional ads in the local papers, I put up flyers for events and got interviewed in local magazines and on public access TV. Word-of-mouth was and is most effective.

NIM: And what’s faster at getting words out of mouths than Facebook? Your store has quite the presence there. You have a Facebook page for your store, and a Web page for Annex Art Society.

NIM: Before I started following (stalking?!!) you on Facebook, I thought of your clientele as the hipster/nerd/geek squad. Am I on- or off-base?

WQ: My customer base fits the categories named but there’s more. A general description would be male, college educated, mostly in their 20s and 30s.

NIM: How to you market to the Kids who know everything and think everything’s “whatever”?

WQ: I always try to shock and amaze. The store markets a sense of wonder.

NIM: What’s shocking or amazing at the Annex these days?

WQ: I think people would be surprised at the inroads we’ve achieved in promoting local artists via Facebook through our daily artistic challenges, where artists all over the world participate, and our efforts to encourage creativity, especially in young people.

NIM: How do you reach the young’uns?

WQ: The Annex showcases at least 30 artists a year in our galleries. I work with local high schools in artistic intern programs and I teach a drawing class in the store every Saturday morning.

NIM: Well it must be fun, if people are getting anyone under 80 out of bed Saturday mornings! I think that’s great.

NIM: It takes a lot of effort to man those contests because they are so popular! And social media gives people lots of access to your wall. Why has the response to these contests been so great and how do you keep up with them?

WQ: Personally, the daily Art Challenge is a kind of creative calisthenics, an exercise to keep my brain hopping. I know a few others feel the same way. Plus, humans are social creatures, and it’s extremely gratifying to connect in this way and share images and ideas.

NIM: Isn’t that the beauty of social media? It allows you to actually have fun while you promote your business and grow your numbers. And, it gets people in your door who might otherwise just have walked by, had they not seen the quality of the art that’s being posted on your timeline.

Installment II: Facebook, Zombies, hashtags, and more!

Visit Annex Comics in real life at 314 Broadway in Newport, or go to https://www.facebook.com/annex.comics