Daily photo Jonathan Palmer |
Aaron Muncy of Hartselle, a lifelong comic book collector, recently followed his passion and bought The Comic Shop 2 in Decatur after years of working for corporate retailers. The Comic Shop 2 sells new and vintage comics, offers gaming tournaments, and will soon sell comic book toys and figurines and other related items. Right, A small portion of Muncy’s comic book toy and figurine collection. He recently sold most of his collectibles so he could buy the duplex he lives in.
Living in comic book paradise
Hartselle man buys Decatur
store, lives his dream
By Danielle Komis Palmer
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2447
For more than 12 years, 32-year-old Aaron Muncy worked in retail for large companies like Wal-Mart, Blockbuster and Budget Car Rental. While he made friends at his various jobs, they were "just jobs" he said.
The Hartselle man felt no passion, no sense of personal satisfaction from going to work just to be told by someone else what to do and what he and everyone else was doing wrong.
So five months ago, the self-proclaimed "comic book nerd" did what he should have done years ago. Muncy called the owners of Decatur's lone comic book store, The Comic Shop 2 on Sixth Avenue Southeast, to see if the owners were interested in selling.
To his dismay, they weren't. But a week later, his phone rang — they had changed their minds.
Muncy quickly took over the store and began beefing it up with the comics he knew were popular. A fan of many indie comic books, he stocked the shelves with them. He also quickly accumulated a list of more than 100 customers who wanted to "subscribe" to specific comics that Muncy sets aside for them each week.
Because Muncy is a fan himself, he always knows which editions and which story lines are going to be popular.
"You've got to know what people want," he said.
In the comic book business, anticipating needs is everything, he said. If not, you're going to be stuck with 30 unsold books on the shelf, and miss opportunities to sell the books that are popular at a certain point in time.
A comic book lover
Muncy knows the market so well because he has been reading comic books for as long as he's been able to read. He grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., where his dad's business was just down the street from the local comic book store. It was there that his father b ought him the first issue of "X-Men," and where Muncy would soon find his haven.
Comic books are so popular because, like other books, they provide an escape, Muncy said.
"It's like getting away from life, you know?" he said. People also love them because they can relate to the underdog characters, like Spider-Man.
"They can relate with this guy who was a nerd, then got the superpowers and a hot girlfriend," he said.
While Muncy grew up loving comic books, he managed to escape the "comic book nerd" label by his schoolmates, because he was also athletic and played football.
Today, he has thousands of comic books stuffed in long boxes in his bedroom — including many featuring Green Lantern, his favorite character — along with plenty of comic book character toys and figurines such as Batman, Emma Frost of X-Men and Invisible Woman of the Fantastic Four.
He sold the majority of his collection about a year ago, however, to buy the duplex he lives in.
Living the dream
Muncy's friends and family are happy to see him doing something that he loves. Friend Jason Oddie, who is also a comic book fan, has been at The Comic Shop 2 almost every day since Muncy bought it.
"It's perfect for him," Oddie said of the comic book store. "I'm jealous."
Muncy's father, Bill Muncy, said his son has wanted the comic book store for years, and he's glad to finally see him with it.
"It's probably the happiest I've seen him in years," he said. "There's nothing like doing something you enjoy as an occupation."
While it can be difficult to run a small business in an era of big business, Aaron's personality and knowledge will make him successful, Bill said.
"It's his niche, it really is," he said. "It's something he really enjoys doing and something he knows."
Re-inventing the store
In four months, Muncy has already made many changes to the business. Because today's comic industry is largely directed at adults, Muncy cleared out the yellowed rack of children's comics from the store. Most of his clientele is between the ages of 20 to 40, though he said he'd love to see children picking up comics like he did when he was young.
He's made plenty of friends with customers of his store already, and quickly found out that his comic collection isn't "the" premiere collection in Alabama like he'd thought. People come from Athens, Hartselle, Florence, Huntsville and Cullman to the store, and some travelers even stop in from out of state.
Muncy also created an already popular "local" wall where he features local musicians' albums and artists' drawings. Because many comic book junkies are also gamers, Muncy recently started holding gaming tournaments in the store.
Muncy is also planning to add plenty of comic book related collectible toys and other paraphernalia to the store soon - so much so, that he figures in about a year he may need to move to a bigger store.
But for now, things are looking pretty good. And how can they not, when you've followed your dream and become your own boss?
"I couldn't ask for anything more," Muncy said.
To reach Aaron at The Comic Shop 2 in Decatur, call 351-0225
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