Comic Book Guys choose PayPal

Aug 05 2019 | PayPal Editorial Team

In 2014, Aaron Flanagan and his brother Austin founded the Comic Book Guys store. Based in Belfast when the decision came to choose a payment processor, Aaron turned to PayPal.

PayPal Here: “affordable, portable and modern”

When it came to payments, Aaron was clear about what was required and explains: “there are so many options out there, but PayPal Here was the most affordable solution for a small business starting out,”. But for Aaron, it was more than simply just about cost.

“People needed to feel it was modern. When you go into some stores, their payment systems look very outdated. Some are brands I’ve never heard of, where I’d think I’m not too sure I’d put my card into that! If you’re asking someone to pay maybe £100 for a single comic, you want them to have confidence. Because PayPal is a well-known brand, it was an easy decision for us. The customer has no doubt in their mind that their money is going to the right place.” 

Comic Book Guys quickly established itself as a “go to” destination within the comicsphere and collectors would regularly travel from far to get a hold of rare editions, or to simply to hang out. Events and comic conventions are an important side of the comic world and having a mobile payment solution was essential for Aaron. PayPal Here fits the bill:

“When we’re doing events, there’s no unplugging or messing around. You just put the card reader in your pocket and you’re off. It’s such an easy, easy device to use,” Aaron explains. “And the fact that it links up with our point of sale system makes it all seamless. With PayPal Here, we can process sales anywhere and at any time.”

Managing business growth

The business grew quickly but then started to level off. Aaron realised that “unless we got a lot more stock and gave the store a re-vamp, we couldn’t grow any further. We needed funds to do that, but our cash was tied up with the stock we already had. It’s one of the biggest challenges for any growing small business: you can’t buy your next comic with an old comic.” He continues, “We looked at bank loans and that sort of thing, but none of it was appealing. Interest rates were high and the process for applying was very intense, with an enormous amount of form-filling. As a small retailer, you don’t have the time for all those forms.

When Aaron discovered PayPal Working Capital, he found the application process was simple and straightforward. “We literally filled in the online form in about 20 seconds and about 20 seconds after that the money was in our account. I couldn’t believe it. It gave us the ability to grow the business,” he explains. Comic Book Guys used an initial advance of £6,000 to increase stock levels, then applied for a second to help move to a new location.
 
“The second time we used PayPal Working Capital was invaluable,” Aaron says. “As a small business, it was almost impossible to move the store, get all of the new fixtures, fittings and building stuff done without massive financial backing.” This time, Aaron applied for £10,000.

“We had just paid off the initial advance, and we were getting ready to move store. It was a no-brainer. Instantly, we had the funds available to pay designers, to pay contractors to come in and start building work right away. If I had waited on banks to do that, it would have held up the whole process. We couldn’t have done the move without PayPal Working Capital.”

Serving the comicsphere community

Today, Comic Book Guys occupies a prominent store on one of the city’s main shopping streets and boasts a massive stock of 135,000 current and collectable comics.
“We had a purpose-built, branded store within 6 weeks. That’s practically unheard of for a small retailer and PayPal Working Capital was one of the biggest factors in that,” Aaron says.
As a result, Aaron will soon be employing full-time staff to support himself and his Dad – “the original Comic Book Guy” – who helps in the shop.

The community atmosphere is even stronger with the new store’s welcoming and professional layout. With the new store established, the Comic Book Guys are now in talks to acquire the other three floors of their new building to create the largest comic shop in Northern Ireland. A full online store – http://comicbookguys.co.uk/ – will also be live very soon.

“We already sell a little on eBay and through Facebook. Everything goes through PayPal and PayPal puts it all in one place, which is fantastic. That makes it very easy to sell on multiple channels,” explains Aaron.  Despite the plans, Aaron is staying true to his original vision:

“The biggest success for us is the fact we were able to make the dream a reality. The fact that people come through our door each day and spend money with us is something I could never have believed would happen. We’ve been using PayPal from day one and the service and ease of use are just second to none. I know we’ll continue to use PayPal as we grow in the future.”
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