Four Letter Nerd

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Tough Decision To Leave A Comic Shop

Once you start collecting comics for a while, you’ll find one shop that you really click well with. And, if you are lucky you’ll even begin to form a  friendship with the store owner(s), staff and regular comic readers that frequent that store from time to time. I was eventually lucky enough to find an amazing store that treated me great. I had initially heard hundreds of horror stories about how some comic shop owners would just be absolute dicks to their new and sometimes even returning costumers and unfortunately found one of these stores when I first began collecting 5 years ago. Let me tell you, it was a great escape to get away from them. The staff didn’t give two shits about you and they really didn’t even care about their jobs. I remember asking once where some back issues of Uncanny X-Men were and the guy at the counter just pointed to the boxes and boxes and boxes of comics and said “In there.” I grew to realize that this wasn’t the shop for me. I feel like it will be fair to mention that this store doesn’t just focus on comic books, but rather Vinyl, CD’s, posters, video games and other collectibles, so this is why they couldn’t be bothered to help me.


Representation of the staff at said comic store

After looking around some more, and doing research on local stores, I found the one that was perfect for me. It wasn’t a hole in the wall shop, it was of pretty decent size, and it had everything I could want in a store. Shelves of new comic books, what seemed like thousands of graphic novels and even Magic: The Gathering cards other forms of table top games. It was not uncommon for me to come into the store and see the owner playing cards with a customer, or teaching someone how to play for the first time. I think it took a month of me coming to this store weekly, before I set up a pull box. After setting up a pull box, it only took another month for the staff to learn my name, and not soon after that I was allowed to go behind the counter and grab my own books out of the pull. Occasionally, I would find a book in my pull that I hadn’t asked for, but this would be in there because the staff thought this might be a book I would be interested in. It was the little things like that, that really made me love this store. I was at this store for a good 4 years, and the experience was great.


Not long after we started Four Letter Nerd, Stephen found a little comic shop that he REALLY loved, and wouldn’t stop raving about. He was a pullbox holder at the first shop I mentioned, and he immediately dropped his pull there and started one at this new place.  I ventured over to this shop and I really enjoyed it as well, but I was in an awkward situation. I have been with one comic shop for 4 years and we really knew each other, and then all of a sudden there is a new shop in the picture. One that is unknown, it can be a new experience, its almost exotic. I say all of this because a comic shop is a lot like a boyfriend or girlfriend, especially if you have been patronizing one for a while. Deep down, I knew things were going to potentially become awkward. I decided I wanted the best of both worlds, so I made the decisions to get my DC books at “the old store” and then my Marvel and Image books at “the new store.” This meant I had to drop a few books at the old store, and saying I was dropping a good hunk of my books was no easy task.

When I went to the new shop to start a pull, I was treated like I was a long time friend, even though I had only known the guys at this store for a little more then a week or so. I started my pull with just a few books; Thor: God of Thunder, All New X-Men, Guardians of The Galaxy, and The Amazing Spider-Man. This shop had a 5 book minimum, but they let me just have a couple books because they knew that I frequented another shop. It wasn’t much longer until I formed a solid friendship with one of the store owners and exchanged numbers (Man, this does look like a cheating on a relationship now) and soon I found myself texting the owner about any and all books that I was interested in. Now, he would never say this, but I’m pretty sure he regrets giving me his number. I can be a pretty clingy person. Now, as time passed, this store began to work more and more with our website, until finally we decided to host a trivia night at a local pizza joint the night that Captain America: Winter Solider opened, and they gave us a SHIT TON of prizes to give away including variant cover comics, graphic novels, posters and a few other nick-nacks. This might have been the deciding factor, well this and having to make two separate trips to comic book shops. This took a toll on time and resources trying to balance the two shops.


Now came the hardest part. I realized with the friendship I was forming with the staff that I was going to have to make a tough decision. I could either keep going to two shops and getting books on Wednesdays and Fridays or I had to sever ties with one of the stores. This was a serious hard decision, somewhere in the depths of the 4LN group thread I proposed the question and everyone said I should move my pull to the new shop. Now, this may have been biased because one guy works at the shop and another has a pull there. But nonetheless, I knew what I had to do. I had to break it off with the old store. And this terrified me. I had gone to this store every Wednesday for the last 4 years, and I have been dating my girlfriend for 3 and a half years. Let that sink in for a minute. I’VE BEEN WITH A COMIC SHOP LONGER THAN I’VE BEEN WITH MY GIRLFRIEND. After tossing the idea around for a month or so, I knew it was time to cancel my pull with the old shop. Now, I was prepared to stick with it for as long as the shop required. The owner of the new shop told me to stick with it for at least 90 days because that’s how far in advance stores typically put their orders in for book. As I drove to the shop, I called my best friend Eric to fill him in on the situations, now he’s not much of a comic fan but he would be a listening ear as I vented about the approaching “breakup.” The minute I filled him in on it, he couldn’t stop laughing about why I had called. But I needed to talk this though with someone. I had to have someone reassure me that it was “them and not me.”

I walked into the store and a bunch of the regulars & friends of mine were sitting around a table discussing this weeks new comics. I walked up to the owner, I knew he would be there on New Comics Wednesday, and told him I would have to be canceling my pull. I was bracing myself for the worse of the worse situations, I had heard horror stories about people canceling their boxes and the workers being dicks about this. I luckily did not have this experience, the owner of the store shook my hand, thanked me for 4 great years, reassured me that I was always welcomed, and when I bought my last pull of books the owner still gave me my 20% off.  That was a surprise that I am still grateful for. I drove over to the new store and added at least 10 books to my pull and I couldn’t be happier. I miss the old store at times, and I still haven’t been back because it feels to soon. But, I know when I return that I’ll be welcomed back with open arms. The owner of the new store even sold me some old comics I have been searching for out of his private collection for a killer deal. Yes, this was one of the hardest comic book dilemmas I have been involved in, both parties handled it so well and made the transition so much easier for me. And for that, I want to personally thank Comix City Too! for 4 great years of collection, and Comic Collector Live for many more years of collecting.

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Bill Clark

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