Last month Leef Smith, owner of San Francisco’s Mission Comics, invited the community to discuss what could be done to keep the business going (see “Shop Talk”). About 35 people showed up, and they had a lot of ideas, from freshening up the window displays to going on Tik Tok. “There was a recognition that an event or two is not going to change the course, so we need some longer-term involvement,” Smith told Mission Local. “The way that people wanted to take ownership of projects wasn’t something I’d really expected.” He said the show of support was encouraging, adding, “There was a real appreciation that I wasn’t just deciding to close in silence.”

You can get your car washed, buy a tube of toothpaste, and play Magic: The Gathering all in the same place if you happen to live in Thompson, a small town in northern Manitoba. Thompson Auto Wash started out as, well, a car wash in 2004, expanded into a convenience store in 2017, and now hosts game nights as well. Manager Aman Thethy told the CBC that as a family-owned business, they have a lot of flexibility, and when they started selling collectibles in 2019, they soon saw a need for game nights. “We hear a lot from our customers that they don't have anyone to play with … for the games that they're buying cards for," Thethy said. "We kind of scheduled it around [them]." The store now hosts official tournaments for a number of games, including Pokemon and One Piece, so locals can participate without making the long trek to Winnipeg.

When he heard that Heroes Comics of Fresno, CA, was closing down, longtime customer Joey Martinez sprang into action. “I was more concerned about this community that was going to break up, and I really wanted to make sure everyone had a place to get all their comics,” he told KSEE, so he opened up Secret Identity Comics in a nearby location, with a lot of help from Heroes owner Dave Allread. The new store had its grand opening on January 3, and the festivities included a special farewell presentation for Allread.

Power Comics & Toys of Conway, South Carolina, recently moved to a new, larger location, MyHorryNews reports. The new store is in the downtown area, with much more foot traffic than its previous spot in a strip mall, clerk Tiffany Dresser said, which will hopefully boost in-store sales. With an inventory that includes new comics, back issues, graphic novels, and toys, the store will eventually expand to the second floor of the space as well; as owner Brian Nesbitt said, “We’re a work in progress.”

PA homepage pays a visit to Comics on the Green in Scranton, which has been in business for 32 years. Owner Dave Romeo says he was studying education at Penn State but decided to change course after attending a comics show in 1992. “People that I admire were all there and we’re all talking to them and I was like, I want to do this,” he said. “I want to try and be a part of this community. This is something I had always liked since I was a kid.” It seems to be working: Some of his original customers are still coming in to buy things for their grandchildren. He attributes his success to being involved in the larger community, including working with local libraries; the store will participate in Scranton’s Ice Festival as well.

Colorado Community Media looks at several local game stores that attribute their success to the communities they foster. “Gaming is almost entirely about the community aspect,” said Enchanted Grounds co-owner Jeff Kokx. “I don’t think any game store owner is actually in it to make a mint. I think we do it because we enjoy it. We like the people that come in. We like community.” And Ryun Valdez, who co-owns the Golden Game Guild with his wife, Gabby Mann, pointed out the importance of having a gathering space: “Our society is losing places to meet in person,” Valdez said. “There needs to be places besides just bars, especially for families, where people can go.”

Short Takes

Shayne Wells of Minneapolis station KMSP visited the Fox Den Board Game Café in nearby Burnsville, and she brought the cameras for an interview with owner Brandon Reed.

Seattle’s Tails To Astonish was recently burglarized for the third time in three months, KIRO reports (see “Shop Talk” for an earlier report).

For an in-depth look at the growth and evolution of the Direct Market, check out ICv2’s Direct Market 50th Anniversaryarticles.