Last week, John Dudas, owner and co-founder of Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop, was invited to Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters in California for its 2016 Small Business Council. Just one of 13 businesses selected from throughout the country (and the only one from Ohio), Carol & John’s was selected from more than 25 million business pages on the social media site.
“We went through an extensive interview process, and when I met the interviewer face to face, she said that Ohio (and Oregon) businesses all had an overwhelming sense of civic pride and commitment to their community," Dudas explains. “It was a strong reoccurring trait in those states. The businesses selected were an excellent cross section of America, with diversity across race, gender and age. From a retro pinball arcade to a pop up plus size clothing store. This was an incredible reminder of what success looks like today. We're at a point were anyone can succeed again. A quick and well executed plan like 'Dollar Shave Club' can make an impact so fast that Gillette actually feels the pain.”
Facebook founded its Small Business Council in 2014. The SMB Council serves terms of six months to a year and advises Facebook on strategy and development. In exchange, the businesses receive additional ongoing support from the social media giant.
“A big moment for me was to have my logo on the jumbo-tron at 1 Hacker Way,” Dudas says while reflecting on the experience. “We also got to meet Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. Quite simply, the most influential woman in business today. She's was essential in figuring out how to monetize Google, and was handpicked by Mark Zuckerberg to run Facebook. Having two daughters, meeting her was emotional and inspirational.”
Facebook invites representatives from each small business on its council to its headquarters for a week of “social networking” in real life (weird, right?) and an opportunity to share their vision and exchange ideas.
“Since Facebook now owns Instagram, a lot of the talk was on advertising on this platform,” Dudas elaborates. “Instagram is growing so fast that they're still trying to figure out how it works in a sense. Our Instagram is @Comiccatwinston run by our employee Ben Mundy. It's a sarcastic cat’s eye view of running a comic shop. I always looked at it as a joke but apparently it's not. They said it does everything advertising is supposed to do. Tell a story, give some transparency, and evoke an emotional connection. That lazy cat does all three while he's sitting there doing nothing. People look to Facebook for connection and Instagram for inspiration, even if it's just a quick laugh before they get back to life.”
This is just the latest special invitation for Cleveland’s favorite comic book shop. Last fall, Yelp invited Carol & John’s to its Coast-To-Coast: Coming Together Because We Mean Business. The event brought representatives from Yelp’s 100 top-rated businesses from across North America to its San Francisco headquarters. Similarly, the event celebrated the businesses’ achievements, and shared ideas and business practices. Previously, Carol & John’s participated in a local small business boost class in Cleveland for Facebook.
On Saturday, May 7, Carol & John’s hosts its annual Free Comic Book Day. Carol & John’s hosts one of the largest events in the country. In addition to celebrating comics and comic book culture, Carol & John’s event celebrates Cleveland and its community through local art, history, cosplay and more. Again this year, the shop will give away 25,000 free comics, as well as hundreds of graphic novels. The event actually begins Friday night with a midnight release party. While in California last week, John Dudas had lunch with Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics and founder of Free Comic Book Day. Stay tuned for more info on this year’s FCBD.
Carol & John’s was founded by the mother and son duo of Carol Cazzarin and John Dudas in Kamm’s Plaza on October 28, 1990 (moving to different locations in the plaza in 2006 and 2011). In recent years, the shop has been recognized for its important, positive role in the community with a Commendation from the Secretary of State of Ohio and a Resolution of Recognition from Cleveland City Council. Today, Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop has more than 7,000 likes and 3,000 check-ins on Facebook. With more than 550 reviews, the shop has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. But hey, nobody’s perfect.
(Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop) 17462 Lorain Ave., 216-252-0606, cnjcomics.com