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Browsing for Comics Is No Longer an Option—but at One Portland Comics Shop, the Owner Does the Shopping for You

Once she has the books selected, she either puts them in the mail, personally delivers them or leaves them in a box outside the store for pickup.

Katie Pryde believes that a brick-and-mortar comic shop offers something online retailers don't.

"A lot of customers come in not just to browse," says the owner of Books With Pictures on Southeast Division Street, "but to get guidance."

With the realization she might have to close her store due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she came up with an alternative business model that put added emphasis on guiding consumers toward the product they want: a personalized shopping experience.

She put together a Google form asking potential patrons which comics interest them, who they are shopping for and their desired price range. Once she has the books selected, she either puts them in the mail, personally delivers them or leaves them in a box outside the store for pickup.

How's it going so far? "Extraordinary," Pryde says. "I do all of the buying for the store, so I believe there are very few stinkers on the shelves."

That said, it's slow going: All of Pryde's staff has a medically fragile person in their respective homes, so she's doing all of the packing and deliveries herself. And with the onset of Oregon's shelter in place order, Pryde may have to change her model again. All things considered, though, she's taking the upheaval in stride.

"I'm really honored by how much I feel supported by our local community and the comics community at large," she says. "I'm choosing to be cautiously optimistic that we'll get through."

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