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Unsafe Space: Amok Time, Hicksville, NY

A male co-worker/friend of mine kept recommending this place to me, and as it was only about 5 minutes from work (if that), I decided to give it a try. While my friends intentions were good, I can’t say I’ll be going back.

First, the positives: the store is clean, brightly lit, and has the biggest selection of toys I’ve ever seen outside of a convention. Apparently they have a web store that’s heavy on toys, so I guess that makes sense.

Then there’s everything else. The store itself is in a warehouse-ish district and is hidden behind another store, with only a small sign indicating it’s back there. Also, the huge selection of toys comes at a cost: their selection of comics is tiny, especially for a store that size. I understand that some stores can’t stock a lot of comics, but unless you’re a regular with a pull don’t expect to find even some A-list DC/Marvel titles if you go in a few days after Wednesday, and their entire trade selection consists of two or three IKEA style 5-shelf bookcases, so don’t expect any great variety there either.

The first time I went in just to check the place out on my friend’s recommendation. It was around 6 sometime during the week (not new comic book day) and the store was mostly empty. There was a man looking at the statue’s by the front door with his wife, talking to himself about which one to get, and a UPS man standing by the TV playing some sort of comic book themed movie. The man behind the counter made no sort of acknowledgement that I was there. To be honest, though, that didn’t bother me much, and so I looked through all the toys, admiring the selection and eventually coming across a Justice League Booster Gold figure. After looking through the disappointing comics section, I went to the counter with my figure. The guy looked at me, still dressed for work, then at the figure, then rang me up in silence for about half the transaction. Then, as I gave him my card to pay, I guess he decided he was being rude or something, so he asks “So who are you buying this for?” I give him a look. “Me. I love Booster.” He then proceeds to act like that whole conversation didn’t take place and I think he then tries to talk about what a great selection of toys he has. I decided that this isn’t a place I’d like to come back to, took my figure, and left.

Then Batman Incorporated 8 came out, and I made the ill-fated decision to go back in desperation. I’m a huge Damian fan and I wanted to buy the issue before inevitably getting spoiled by a well-meaning friend or, more likely, the internet. Due to an engagement I had with a friend, I only had about a half hour window to buy the issue if I wanted to get it that Wednesday, and my LCS (Fourth World) was too far away. I knew Amok Time was right there. So I went.

Unlike the first time, this time the store was decently populated (it was about 6pm on New Comic Book day, so I wasn’t surprised). There was a line of about 8 people in front of the counter, 2 or 3 people browsing the stack of new comics, and 2 more just loitering near the counter. They were all male. I went over to the tiny comics section and scanned the entire section about 3 or 4 times for the book. I didn’t see it. I looked around for an employee that wasn’t the cashier who was busy ringing people up. Didn’t see anyone. I decided to get on line and ask the cashier if he had any books in the back. I know the back room isn’t this magical place of extra stock like people seem to think it is (I have worked retail), but I figured it was a busy Wednesday, most stores that I’ve been to don’t put out their entire stock in one shot, and thought no one had gotten a chance to replenish it yet. After waiting about 3 or 4 minutes, another employee appears from out of the back room and starts asking people on line what they’re looking for. When he gets to me, I ask him if he happens to have any extra copies of Batman Inc 8, as I didn’t see any out.

I can’t remember if it was the employee who asked me or the cashier, but I really do feel like it was the cashier, who then snippily said something really close to: “That’s a really popular title. We’re sold out. If you really wanted a copy, you should have gotten here earlier.” Mind you, this was 6PM. I had just gotten off work. I was clearly dressed like I had just came from work. There was no way for me to get there earlier.

I shouldn’t have felt the need to defend myself, because fuck that guy, but I did say something along the lines of “I was at work, this is the first time I had a chance to get out here.” to which the man basically once more stated it was a popular title, and insinuated it was my fault for not being able to come in earlier and get a copy.

Then the two guys next to the counter start talking loudly enough for me to hear “Hey, isn’t Batman Incorporated 8 the one that was on the news?” “Yeah, some people will buy anything if it’s popular.” And continue to carry on their conversation like a. I wasn’t there/couldn’t hear them b. they knew why I was “really” there. The topper for me was, I shit you not, one of them was wearing a fedora and trench coat like a bad stereotype.

I left and have not gone back since, nor do I plan to unless super desperate for a nerdy toy for someone’s birthday.

(Fun fact: After all that, I got back in my car and called Fourth World from the parking lot. Not only did they have extra copies, they put one in my pull for me. I had to wait an extra day, but I did manage to avoid spoilers until then.)

tennyboo asked:

Hey there! So I recently came back to work Comics for Collectors, Ithaca, after a leave of absence, and was talking to a customer who recommended I come here and submit our shop as a Safe Space. After she left, I came to check out the site, and to my horror discovered that in my absence some had a very bad experience. I would love to re-app as a Safe Space (esp with our Ladies' Night coming up), but is that allowed? I don't know if you folks have any procedures for this sort of sitch.

Hater Free Wednesdays was created with the idea of giving minority comics fans a voice, and if some had bad experiences at your store, it’s important that they be able to share that. However, if future customers (such as your ladies’ night attendees) find your store has improved, they are certainly encouraged to submit their positive experiences! We are aware that environments and attitudes can change, which is why we don’t give “blanket” recommendations, and why, while you may have the best of intentions, we can’t simply take as read your guarantee that your store is a safe space. Hopefully, customers’ experiences will bear you out.

Unsafe space: Collector’s Kingdom, Huntington, NY

This was the first local comic book store I went to about 7 years ago after a friend of mine helped me get into comics, so chosen because it was literally on my way home from work at the time. If I had a better knowledge of the comic book shops in the area were like, I would not have shopped there as often as I did.

First, the store is dark and crammed to the gills with stuff—and not in a good way. The aisles can barely fit an average-sized person, and the toys and such are piled so high I was paranoid that one bump would cause it to come crashing down onto me. To its credit, it has a HUGE selection of toys and back issues, if you can live with the potential of getting crushed by the selection.

The one thing it really doesn’t have a decent collection in were trades. I say this because this was how I was originally buying my comic books, and why I found myself returning there even though that little voice in the back of my head told me to stop.

So my friend had suggested for me to try Civil War as a Marvel jumping on point (say what you will about the content, it really did help me understand the Marvel status quo at the time), as well as his favorite title: The Runaways. In their modest selection of trades I was able to get Road to Civil War, Civil War, and Civil War: Runaways and Young Avengers. The guy behind the counter barely acknowledged I was there, or if he did it was one of those hurried faux-politeness conversations. It wasn’t enough to write me off from the store completely, but I did think it was odd. I just sort of chalked it up to going there after work, around their closing time.

Well I fell in love with a teen team after reading the Civil War Runaways and Young Avengers trade, but it wasn’t the one my friend recommended. I went back to the store to try to find trades of this Young Avengers team. They didn’t have any. On a whim, I approached the counter to see if they could possibly order me the trades. The guy behind the counter seemed rather stunned that I would want it, but after realizing his salesman mask was slipping, pushed it back on over his face and let me order it like an actual human being. I returned two more times to pick up Volumes 1 and 2 when they came in. Again, the service wasn’t offensive, but I didn’t feel particularly welcomed.

I can’t remember what I was looking for whne I went to the store that last time, but I know I was kneeling down to look through their tiny trade collection, all but hidden from view thanks to the high aisles crammed with stuff. The guy behind the counter was animatedly talking to another guy, with way more passion than he’d ever bothered with me. I can’t remember the particular conversation, but it wasn’t offensive, just your standard comics conversation about how something was better than something else. At one point the guy said “damn” or a “curse” word of that level. As he did, I happened to pop back up from looking through the trades. The second they saw me they both froze. Clearly they had no idea I was there. After a few awkward seconds of silence, the customer said to the cashier “excuse me, I didn’t realize there was a lady in the store.” That was the moment I realized that I wasn’t particularly welcome in that store, and that my being there was akin to every bad comic book store stereotype out there. The guys wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. Like I said, they were just having a normal conversation, yet they were acting like they had just insulted the queen of England by daring to say the word “damn” in her presence.

Needless to say, I stopped shopping there.

I’ve gone back a handful of times for Free Comic Book Day if I have the time, to take advantage of their cheap back issues on sale, so I can safely say their “OMG there’s a woman in the store” attitude hasn’t changed since then.

The Fallout Shelter, Highland Park, NJ

The Fallout Shelter Comics, Games & Collectibles is located at 320 Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, NJ, USA. I’ve been visiting The Fallout Shelter for Friday Night Magic for a while now and haven’t once felt harassed, discriminated against, or otherwise unsafe. The staff are a welcoming bunch; David is a great resource for comic book recommendations. There’s a small contingent of us female folk who play here frequently, and I know at least one of the regulars is openly gay. The gaming atmosphere is much friendlier than other places I have played, and it’s easy to make friends. Overall a very diverse and engaging community of Magic players. I highly recommend The Fallout Shelter for gamers and comic book readers alike.

Website: http://falloutsheltercomics.com/

There’s also a Facebook group

Rockin’ Rooster Comics & Games Cincinnati, Ohio

The guys that work there are pretty helpful and willing to answer any questions. I would rather go here than to Up, Up, and Away- which isn’t as female friendly. I only had one bad experience here and that was on free comic book day with a guy (customer) being creepy towards my friend (female)- but it’s female friendly otherwise. They have a large collection (lots of back issues). The parking lot is a bit small and on a slant, but it’s still pretty good.

Stadium Comics, Brampton, Ontario

I work at a store called Stadium Comics in Brampton, Ontario and I happen to notice we are not on your list of safe comic stores….yet. So I decided to fix that by submitting to you.

I wanted to submit something positive and get our store on your awesome safe list as a thank you to my employers for being so supportive when I came out as Female to Male Transgender. I am so proud to be working at this store, in an environment that makes women, lgbt, poc, and newbies feel welcome and accepted. I hear a lot of people coming into the store and saying that they never knew we were here, which makes me want to change that by submitting here and hopefully there is someone in the Brampton area that is looking for a safe place. I know from personal experience that it can be hard to find a place where you feel comfortable, it sucks to be judged based on your gender, sexuality or colour within a community that you think would be eager to extend a hand towards others. I’ve felt the sting of prejudice before, from people who misgender me as female and from transphobia. I don’t want others to ever feel that way while doing something as simple as picking up some comic books, something a lot of people take for granted. 

The horror stories i have heard from all minorities that come into the store range from upsetting to down right disgusting. I hate hearing, even reading on here, some of the stories of discrimination and I’m really sorry to anyone who has ever been made to feel this way.

I will say that our store can be difficult to navigate for those with either strollers or wheelchairs, but we do have a few customers in wheelchairs that can easily navigate around the store. This is due to our smaller aisles but overall we are fairly accessible but I’m not going to tag it just because we are not %100 as perfect as we could be in this area due to our small store size. 

So if anyone is looking for a place to call their own in the Peel region, come hang here at Stadium Comics. Come for the free events too! We party a lot and it would be great to include you. Or just come down and have a chat with me, Toby, I love a good conversation about comics.

Maybe if you’re lucky the owner and his wife will have their baby in store when you come in and you can say hi to him :) his name is Clark

Album Comics, Paris, France

Stumbled across Album Comics in while vacationing in Paris.  It was very lovely with every kind of comic (with lots of French and English versions) and the staff were very nice and helpful.  I’m a DC girl, but my boyfriend is mostly a Marvel fan so I wanted to buy him a Spiderman comic book in French but was unfamiliar with any good classic stories.  The store employees helped me find a good storyline without being condescending and my boyfriend loved it.  The store clearly catered to both French and English-speaking comic book geeks and I felt very comfortable there.  The address is 67 Boulevard Saint-Germain 75005, Paris, France, +33 1 53 10 00 60. 

Comicopia, Boston MA

Comicopia already has several glowing reports, but I would just like to add another from a newbie angle.  I have a working familiarity with comics but have mostly just dabbled for the past few years, so I had a lot of questions about where things were, when issues had or would come out, how a pull list worked, etc.  Matt, the owner, fielded them in a very friendly, straightforward, and helpful manner.  Also, again from the newbie angle, I found myself looking around and finding a lot of stuff that I was interested in.  They’re recovering from a flood right now so things are a little chaotic inside, but I found the space pleasant and welcoming.  Between the stock, the space, and the people it’s definitely a comic shop that I look forward to going back to… Hopefully regularly!

Anonymous

Anonymous asked:

Age of Comics in Albuquerque, NM is a great place! The owners are friendly and helpful and the other customers are chill too. I'm a woman of color and the first time I walked in there was another kid who looked like me flipping through a copy of "Storm" so I felt pretty safe and actually kind of happy! Been going back ever since.

cornwankies asked:

Thank you for your lovely masterpost of safespace comic shops. My local, All Star in Melbourne Australia has recently started a women's comics reading club. We want to encourage all kinds of women to come and be safe whether they've never read a comic before or been reading them all their lives. Do you know of any other womens reading groups in other cities that we can sister-club with? thanks, claude :)

You can check our ‘ladies night’ tag for some shops with similar groups!

Anonymous

Anonymous asked:

I can second the possibility of a not-so-safe space status of comic swap in state college pa. Not that anything terrible has occurred there for me personally, the service is just often rather cold and brusque when I go. Not so bad to declare it unsafe, just don't expect a warm welcome. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's just the one guy who's always working when I go in on my lunch hour, but idk.

killerkhaleesi asked:

I would just like to submit the Fallout Shelter in Highland Park, NJ as a safe space. My best friend and I went there and we had a super pleasant time. The guy working the counter was polite, and really helpful, and engaged us in a nice conversation. (We're both black women; my bestie is a comic vet and I'm a newbie, and the whole experience was really awesome in general)

Safe Space: Paradise Comics, Toronto, ON, Canada

Paradise Comics

3278 Yonge St.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

http://paradisecomics.com

I live three blocks from this amazing comic book shop and have been going for four years now. Everyone from newcomers to lifelong collectors to kids are made to feel welcome. Excellent customer service from the whole crew. They give great recommendations. Plus they have the best graphic novel selection in the city. 

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