This is something I was toying around with for a fiction series I've been plotting, but after chipping away at the concept I found myself wondering what would happen if such a thing existed in real life.
"Treasure Chest Comics"
The idea is that this is a national chain of comic shops and affiliates. It started with a single shop in Utah, and has since spread throughout the Rocky Mountain area. At the start of the series, it's in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Texas. In addition to the physical stores, the company also has a website. They've also bought advertising time with a company that syndicates television programming nationwide, meaning that pretty much every show they syndicate that isn't up for an E/I tag has at least one ad for the franchise.
Treasure Chest's main gimmick is that they use full computerization to manage inventory. Every store is linked to a central system, meaning that corporate has an active inventory of what every individual store has in stock as far as new comics and merchandise as well as the inventory corporate itself has in its clearinghouse. "Vintage" comics, meanwhile, are left to the individual stores.
If a store runs out of an issue, corporate can immediately dispatch replenishment, either from its own stocks or from the stocks of a store where that item isn't moving. This helps balance out inventory to deal with local customer demand.
If a customer is willing to pay the mark-up (10% or so?) to order through the corporate storefront, the order is sent to the comic shop nearest the customer to fulfill. This way, the store gets the $$$ for the items themselves and its cut of the shipping.
Not only does the website have the locations of each store, it also has a method by which comic shop owners can apply to become affiliates and people can essentially buy TC franchises outright.
Another advantage of the computerized system is that corporate can keep track of titles that just aren't selling, period. Titles get 13 months to sit in inventory, then notices are sent to the stores themselves: these are the issues that are past the mark, and so if you want to be rid of them we'll give you $0.75 apiece plus shipping. These issues are combined with merchandise that's past date and TC-exclusive material to form loot crates; stores can choose to stock these items themselves in case people are willing to purchase them in person, but beyond that they're mostly purchased online. The logic behind all of this is that TC and the shops lose *less* on clearing this back-stock out loot crate style than they do by keeping unsold product clogging the shelves and denying space to new product that would sell.
As one can imagine, a computerized system like this that keeps track of what does and does not sell gives them leverage with the comic book companies and others, which is where the story would begin.
How disruptive to the industry might something like this be?