I should probably start by saying that I am grateful. I really am.
Last week, it was revealed that Variant Edition has been voted the 3rd Best Comic Shop in Edmonton by readers of VueWeekly – which is a pretty huge deal for a place that’s only been open for five months. If my sense of history holds up, this hasn’t happened for any of the other shops in Edmonton, and I am both excited and humbled by the whole thing.
That said, I have been confronted with my feelings on the whole voting process that Vue’s Best of Edmonton awards are based on. While working for Wizard’s Comics, I was always upset when the highest we would climb was this very spot. I would grouse and grumble internally and externally. It doesn’t mean anything, I would moan. It’s all just a popularity contest – it isn’t an actual reflection of the customer base. And let’s be honest here: it isn’t. It’s a great award, but I can guarantee you, getting those votes mean absolutely nothing in relation to a shop’s sales or full customer base. Like I said before, we’re five months in, and I’m 100% sure we aren’t the third top grossing shop in the area.
Now on the other hand, the award really does measure something important: a person or business’ connection to their audience – or to over simplify, it measures quality rather than quantity. If these awards were all about quantity, chart toppers would be a litany of large box corporations and entities – but of course, they are not. And if I’ve learned just one very important lesson over the few months this business has been running, it’s never about the quantity of your customers – it’s about the quality, and the experience that you share with them. It’s about connecting in some way, and bringing a smile to their faces. It’s about seeing these wonderful people almost every week, because they enjoy your business and the way you’re presenting it.
For some, that’s not a good measure of Best – but for me, that’s more than enough. Variant Edition is the third best comic store in the city for connecting and engaging their customers. We care about them, and they care about us, and when you’re running a small business, sometimes that’s all you need to keep your engines running as the hours continue to pile up.
So again, I would like to say thank you to everyone who frequents Variant Edition, and who voted for us this year. You’re amazing, and you keep us going – and we look forward to serving you and being a part of your pop culture experiences for a long time to come.
This year’s Edmonton Expo has finally wrapped, and with it, a whole lot of work. I hosted three panels over the weekend (and I thought they all went rather well – I’ll probably have a recap up somewhere in the next few days) and handed out a few business cards to people that I haven’t seen since leaving my old work. There’s always a lot of rumours when it comes to the how, when and why Variant Edition became an ongoing concern (and I will definitely talk more in depth about that some other time), but suffice to say, I wasn’t thinking of opening a shop when I handed in my resignation, nor when I left. I was actually going to do some freelancing for a while, and see how that went – but other opportunities came up, and I honestly found myself missing comics retail more than I had thought I would. Anyway, the long and short of that is, for many people, I just disappeared from their lives without so much as a note, everyone expecting me to be quietly writing for the internet or what-have-you – and honestly, it was nice to see some of those old faces again. I hope that a few of them were happy to see me too, and might check out the store in the near future.
And speaking of the store, yesterday was our big Indigenous Representation Panel. Tomorrow, we’re releasing the audio. I’ll definitely be linking to that on this blog, but for now I’ll just say that I’m eternally grateful to the panelists (Richard Van Camp, Patti Laboucane-Benson, Kelly Mellings and James Leask) for participating. It was a great discussion, and I’m just glad to be a small part of putting something like that together, and getting it out into the world.
And with that, another day wraps! Tomorrow… stuff? Things? Honestly, I’m still catching up from the weekend, so we’ll see. Until then!