When I was a child I had great difficulty finding a comic shop near me. I would have to travel far just to even glimpse at a Superman comic. This was B.I, “Before Internet”. Now it’s very easy for the world to buy comics and toys from all over the world. So, does the world still need physical comic shops? Yes they do, and I truly feel that they should all be like “The Comic Shop”. Let me tell you all about my time at a reasonably new shop with a very exciting future.
My sister was visiting friends recently in Crawley and noticed the shop and told me I should check it out the next time I was there. I didn’t have to wait long to plan my trip because as soon as my sister told me about the shop I was contacted by a regular customer who told me I should visit.
David (who follows me on Instagram and has his own seat inside!)told me all about the shop, how it hadn’t been open for very long and how it means so much to him and many others. I contacted the owners and planned my trip as this business had gotten some great feedback online. Crawley is about an hour away by train and I’m very glad about that as I know I’ll be going back soon after enjoying my time there.
The shop has only been open for a few months but it’s been an idea and a project of passion for many years. Howard and Chris have put blood, sweat and tears into this business venture and it shows. After a friendly introduction the guys made me a coffee and gave me a tour (Yes, this comic shop had a coffee bar!). We chatted about how the two met and the trials and tribulations they went through to get this comic shop open. It was a true origin story!
As I mentioned, they sell coffee as well as comics, and also an array of snacks, but they offer so much more. Toys, back issues, collectible items and graphic novels. Now, after exploring the shop and enjoying a coffee I was already very happy with the surroundings but just like a fantastic story, there was more excitement hiding around the corner!
At the back of the building there is a retro arcade room with incredibly comfy sofas and huge T.V’s. Customers and locals can rent a screen, enjoy tasty drinks/snacks and also play classic and new games. I wanted to move in there and then! I was introduced to one young regular who has made The Comic Shop is local place of entertainment and relaxation. A safe place where he can embrace his passions, meet like minded people and have a great time.
The Comic Shop is a credit to the local community and I was very jealous that I didn’t have a place like then when I was growing up. I got there shortly after they opened and it didn’t take long and the customers started coming in and the fresh coffees were being crafted. Regulars were grabbing drinks and snacks and then they sat down and set up their card games and began to play. On certain days of the week people come to play their favourite board games/card games and hang out with friends. The tables and chairs were one of the first things I noticed when I came in. The other thing was the huge Hulk statue that was imported from America. The perfect doorman!
These tables are such a great sight to see. I’ve visited many comic shops in my time and sometimes you can feel some isolation when you enter. Customers with their heads in comics and staff stacking shelves or serving the public. Here the customer is treated like an old friend and with the addition of this seating area you have the option to chat with friends or sit down in peace and read your newly purchased comic with a hot drink. If you do have the chance to visit I recommend the sofas. They reminded me of the furniture from The Big Bang Theory and were super comfortable!
The decor is amazing. At the front of the shop is where you buy your comics, toys and gaming goods and it looks like an American newsstand and I felt like I was in New York or Metropolis! There was also a fence with some fun posters on it and also some information about local events. I need to get a TGOS poster on there!
I explored the shop while the guys were selling comics and serving coffee and also spent a lot of time going through some of their vintage comics. They had a lot! They also had a great display of Funko Pops, toys, graphic novels and some of the latest issue comics. I really felt at home there. It was spacious and not too confined like some comics shops. I was told that more classic arcade games were going to be installed soon and possibly some gaming nights in the future. I will be going back for that! The shop has so much potential for great things and with Chris and Howard in charge of the brainstorming, I know they will not stop until they get what they want for their customers.
Sadly the time had come for me to leave the shop and make my way home. I said my goodbyes to the owners and passed on my thanks for all that they have done for the community and the comic book industry. Speaking to them on that day really showed me how much they care about this comic shop and their customers. It was was truly inspiring and refreshing to meet two passionate friends who not only want the best for their business but the shoppers who visit this geeky haven.
I am looking forward to returning and with all the events the guys have planned out for the future, I might have to reserve my comfy couch in advance!
The Comic Shop website gives lots of information about directions, opening times and everything they provide to the public, which is a lot.