St. Louis Business Journal: Page Turners

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Comic shop goes global

“We had to pivot pretty quickly,” he said. “It encouraged a lot of shops to get better on social media and online, which to this day, helps us out, because now a lot of us have gone from neighborhood comic shops to global comic shops.”

Now, Apotheosis has increased its sales and expanded its operations beyond what they used to be, thanks to the pandemic’s push.

One day, Casas recalled selling 80 copies of a new comic: The first order came in from Connecticut and the final order came in from Alaska.

“Every once in a while, you get a fluke where someone from out-of-state has the right algorithm and is now on your website and buys something. Our trick has been to continue communicating with them,” Casas said.

This has led to the store’s returning customer rate increasing 13% so far in 2022 from the previous year. Overall sales are up 8% so far this year, he said.

From Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2022, sales at Apotheosis more than doubled, something Casas credits to the store’s increased online presence, and its subscription service has grown to over 360 subscribers from about 75.

The store’s online presence has expanded so much that next year Casas said he plans to hire an additional employee whose sole job will be to manage online sales. Apotheosis currently employs seven workers.

Even though online sales have bolstered Casas’ business substantially, he said that the store still sees most of its sales come from in-person shopping, and in the next year, he plans to re-focus his efforts on community-based events and improving the store’s customer experience.

But the trials of being an independent bookseller are often bookended by the benefits, such as the conversations he's able to have with customers about the impact of their local purchases.

“I think that at the end of the day, people's need to be a part of a community will always offer a way to keep small shops like mine alive,” he said.

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