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.)