Longtime Bellingham comic store settling in to bigger space

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 14, 2013 

The Comics Place, Bellingham

Ella Prichard, 7, reads "My Little Pony" while her dad, Tony Prichard, checks out comic books at the new location of The Comics Place, the former location of Eagles Games, on the corner of Bay and West Holly Streets in Bellingham, Dec. 11, 2013.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Comic books have staying power, and a Bellingham store is hoping to continue building the audience.

Last week The Comics Place moved into the former Eagles Games spot at 221 W. Holly St., nearly tripling in size. About 15,000 comic books were moved into the new space, and the store is considering bringing in some new products and creating a reading space area, said Roman Stadtler, who manages the store.

Stadtler said some in the industry have expressed concern that paper comic books might suffer from recent changes in digital technology, much like paperback books, but instead he's seen growing popularity. The upswing of movies and television shows based on comic book characters have helped move the hobby into the mainstream market. Originally geared toward boys, comics are drawing more girls and adults these days, he said.

Technology-wise, more people are reading comics online, but he's found that they then tend to purchase the paper copies of the ones they enjoy. The draw, he said, is the quality of work these days, particularly in the storylines.

"For a time, the stigma was that comic books were lowbrow, but now it's become cool (to read)," Stadtler said. "You can take these characters and tell compelling, interesting stories."

Originally founded in 1982 by Michael Goodson, the store has spent much of its existence occupying a 700-square-foot space tucked away upstairs in the Bay Street Village building.

In a nod to former Holly Street tenant Eagles, The Comics Place may add a few board games and have a casual game room that doesn't interfere with the other gaming businesses in town.

The new space on the corner of Bay and Holly streets provides more visibility, which is expected to draw new customers. Stadtler also likes the pop culture feel that is developing in that area, with art galleries, Mindport and businesses like Rocket Donuts as well as the soon-to-open Bureau of Historical Investigation by the Good Time Girls.

The store plans on having a grand opening celebration in January. For details about the store, visit its Facebook page or TheComicsPlace.com.

FITNESS GEAR AND TRAINING ON THE MOVE

Fitness Gear & Training will be moving to a bigger space at 1605 N. State St., in the former Erickson Interiors space.

The company offers personal training, group fitness programs and retail sales of equipment. The plan is to move the fitness programs on Monday, Dec. 23, from 1423 Railroad Ave., according to a company news release. The retail fitness equipment will be in the new space on Dec. 30.

The new space also will have shower facilities, free parking and provide more space for the training programs and equipment, said Zac Palmer, general manager of the business. His father, Bob Palmer, started the business in 1989.

For further details, call 360-671-5059 or visit FitnessGearAndTraining.com.

OTHER TIDBITS

- Earlier this month Ryan and Jennifer McKee announced on Facebook the closure of two of their Bakerview Square consignment stores, Traders Depot and Red Tag Furniture Consignment. The McKees will continue to operate their business, Plum Chic, a women's consignment store, which is also at Bakerview Square. ... The nightclub Stella has closed and "For Lease" signs are in the windows for the space at 311 E. Holly St.

- John and Seriattana Huber have applied for a state liquor license to put in a restaurant called Basil at 420 Cherry St. in Sumas.

Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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