The next level

Lucy Myatt's comic book shop Level Up was struggling until she took to YouTube with her daily geeky videos

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A comic book shop owner who fell on hard times when business slowed down has transformed her enterprise by posting videos on YouTube.

Lucy Myatt opened her shop Level Up in Liverpool’s Quiggins Mall in 2012. The shop was initially opened as a retro gaming store, but Myatt, a comic book fan, decided to merge her two interests together, and the shop is now stocked with tens of thousands of comics.

In 2015 footfall in Myatt’s shop started to slow down and she was not making enough profit to cover her rent. Four months behind on her bills, Myatt feared her mounting debts would force the shop to close down.

Determined to make the business survive, Myatt started a YouTube channel and filmed herself talking about video games, comic books and conventions, and before long Myatt noticed new customers visiting her store.

“The business has always pretty much taken in what it needs, so I’ve never really had any chance to save up money,” says Myatt. “It was just getting quieter and the building was getting slower and slower. I couldn’t let go of the business but it was just getting worse.”

Myatt started a YouTube channel under the name TorAthena and started posting videos on a daily basis.

“I’ve been using YouTube for about a year now,” she says. “I post a bit of everything as long as it’s geeky. I do comic book reviews – that’s the main thing – but I also go to conventions, I film cosplay, I talk about cosplay. And then I have a second channel where I do daily vlogs and I market that towards self-employed people running their own business.

“Since I started using YouTube I’ve caught up on my rent. It’s certainly got more people to notice the shop. Retro gaming and comic books are a constantly growing business, so there should be no real reason why I’m struggling. I should only be doing better and better.

“YouTube is like free advertising, and as my numbers grow on YouTube I get invited as a guest for conventions. I go and talk about YouTube and I can talk about my shop. Customers come in and tell me they have seen my videos online. I remember one day when three new customers came in and told me they’d seen my videos and reviews on YouTube, so it has definitely helped.”

“Comic books are fashionable at the moment – it’s all about how you market it.”

Some of Myatt’s videos attract up to 65,000 views but she admits there is still room for growth.

“I hit target now but it is still a struggle,” she says. “It’s like balancing spinning plates on sticks, but it’s improved enough that I have caught up with four months rent. Comic books are fashionable at the moment – it’s all about how you market it.

“I think there is definitely room for everybody on the internet to promote their business and for it to be a success. I recommend finding what your selling point is and definitely exploiting that.

“Since starting my business I’ve learned how stupid I was when I first opened up. I opened up with no real market research and I am very lucky to be here because I could have easily lost all my money in this without researching properly.”

To watch Myatt’s comic reviews visit torathena.com/youtube. Read a comic book version of this story by Amy Evans in the 22 May edition of Big Issue North

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