“It’s this apartment here, right above the comic book store,” the realtor said as we approached the brownstone. He was ahead of me, so he missed my fist pump and huge smile as he said that. I signed the lease immediately.
I had shopped at this store now and then over the years, but it didn’t become my regular spot until it became my very local comic store (VLCS?).
If you ever get the chance to live above a comic book store, I highly recommend it. At the time, none of my friends read comics and it was nice having people nearby with whom I could talk comics at a moment’s notice. I started referring to going to the store as “visiting the downstairs neighbors.” I joked about drilling a hole in my living room floor/their ceiling and installing a Bat-pole, so that I could drop down there after hours and read all the comics I wanted.
I don’t live above that store anymore. My move out of the building happened to time with the move to the other side of the country of my two favorite staff members there. In that way, the timing felt right. I still call the years living above the shop as “my personal golden age.”
It’s still my weekly Wednesday shop. I now live 10 blocks away instead of 10 feet. It’s a good store. The staff is friendly and always looks out for their regulars. If they knew your tastes, they would hold something for you if it was in danger of selling out. If it turned out you didn’t want it, no problem.
Today is the store’s last day of business. Tonight, they’ll be locking up for the last time. I went in this past Wednesday, their final new comic day, and the place had a pall over it. I felt like I was at a wake. People talked in hushed tones. Much of the stock had already been liquidated. Customers and staff alike spoke of this being the first time they’ve ever seen the actual walls of the store, now that the t-shirts and toys were gone. People were hopeful that the owner would reopen again nearby, but he’s decided to consolidate his business to his other store in another part of the city.
After closing time on Wednesday, I met the staff and some customers for drinks so that we could send the store off properly. We drank until past midnight, recollecting our favorite anecdotes about the store. I had a hard time sleeping that night; I was full of anxiety for my friends who were losing their jobs right before Christmas. But it looks like most of them will be still be employed at the store’s other location and the ones that will not have found new work.
I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has many comic book stores. There are probably a dozen comic shops I could get to in less time than it takes many users on this site to get to their nearest store. And the good stores here are great stores. Still, I think the death of my VLCS is going to be what causes me to go 99% digital. I’ve had an iPad for some time, but the social aspect of talking comics with the Wednesday crew is what kept me buying books in print. And I knew my weekly dollars were helping keep my favorite store in the neighborhood afloat. My wife will be happy with this new decision. She pushed for a move to all digital right after I got an iPad. Space is the main enemy of a comic book collector when you live in a one-bedroom apartment.
RIP LCS. You’ll be sorely missed.