Welcome to the first post in what I hope to make an on-going series here at Geeks with Wives. The Shop Spotlight! I’ve been bouncing around various ideas of something I could do that would allow me to network with people and use our reach as a fairly established website to help out others. Thus the Shop Spotlight was born. I want this to be an easy way for people to find their local comic shops in the area and to help out shops as much I can, all while having a little fun and providing the reader with a bit of a background on their shops!
For the first installment I went right to one of my friends, Timmy Heague, owner of Arsenal Comics & Games in Thousand Oaks/Newbury Park area of California! I lived in the area shortly and ended up attending the opening of the shop and Timmy was nothing but gracious and down to earth. So when I had the idea for this series, I knew exactly who I wanted to be the first participant!
No problem, I have many things to say about comics and comics retailing so this is my type of interview. If there was any interview I was born to do, it is this one.
To start this spotlight off the right way, why don’t you tell our readers a little about yourself and how you got into comics and ultimately how you opened your shop?
I got into comics the best way a kid can. My dad took me to see Star Wars Episode IV when it was rereleased in the theatres. Right after I suddenly had the urge to indulge my young eight year old self in anything sci-fi and geeky. My father soon took notice of this and decided to see if I’d have any interest in comic books. Sure enough walking into our local comic shop for the first time was an experience that would definitely change my life. My first two comics I bought were Web of Spider-Man #1 and Green Lantern #145. It exploded into a love of all things comics. From then on I would visit that shop every Wednesday for the new releases and every Sunday to go through the older back issues in their massive inventory. As I got older I needed to find a way to fund my addiction so I started working at my dad’s business on the weekends and after school to earn some cash. Then at age 15, right at the end of my freshman year of high school, the store that I had been shopping at for half my life had now asked me if I wanted to work there. I worked there on and off from the age of 15 till 21. Sometimes took time off to pursue other things like other jobs, music, education, etc. Things slowed down for me though at around age 20 so I went full time at the comic shop. I really began to realize that I definitely was meant for some type of career in comics retailing. I was too smart though to be able to believe that I could be happy and sustain myself financially in the end by just working for someone else at their comic shop. What began as an idea that I didn’t know how it could ever come true, turned into the thing I was focused most on in life. For a year straight I worked the hardest I had ever had in my life on making the shop happen. All my thought, free time, energy went to making sure the shop I owned, was the best shop I could make. Half way through the process of it all, I met my business partner Paul Roman Martinez who is the Co-Founder of the shop with me. Together we solidified the plan to make it all happen.
What’s been your favorite part of owning the comic shop so far? Are there any special moments that stand out?
This comic shop has been my dream come true! To pick one moment to call special or my favorite is a very hard question. If I really had to pick one single thing I absolutely love the best, it would probably getting to sell someone their first comic. If I can be the thing to start someone’s love for comics, I can call my day made.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned while owning the shop?
I’ve definitely learned that every single market is different. Even though my shop is only 20-30 minutes away, the things that sell well for me or vice versa are completely different than the store I worked at before opening up my shop. Items that never moved at that store are constant bestsellers at mine. By any means this is something I am more than okay with. Owning a comic shop is all about knowing what your local market wants and making sure you cater to it. The big sellers though sometimes will always be the same no matter what (The big storylines from DC or Marvel) but everything else can just be random and it’s totally great. The fact that one of my best sellers is a Sci-Fi Love Epic from Image Comics (that I was lucky to sell maybe one copy of my previous employment) just fills me with endless joy. I want to be the store that doesn’t just sell the big Marvel or DC books but also sells the highest numbers possible on the lesser known books.
Have you seen the trend in comic buyers go up or down recently given the introduction of digital comics?
Digital Comics are something that doesn’t really affect me. Print will always thrive. Comic readers and collectors will always want that physical thing in their hand. I can’t do digital, it would make my eyes hurt after half an hour and have me put it down which is the complete opposite of what a printed comic book makes me want to do. Don’t get me wrong though, there are some huge pros I see about digital comics. My buddy Evan told me how he does digital because his little toddler just eats/rips his books and he really wants to read his Ms. Marvel without having to experience that. The idea of having hundreds of comics on a tablet with you when you’re on the go is also something I can dig on. So even though I don’t really fear print losing to digital, I do acknowledge that digital still has its great uses. I am planning to eventually have the service set up by Comixology, that still lets my customers still buy their digital comics but are essentially still buying them through me and supporting their local comic book shop.
Are there any other activities you have at your store, such as game nights or any tournaments?
Arsenal Comics and Games definitely is a store that is very event centric. We have weekly evening gaming events that range from Friday Night Magic, Heroclix night, board game nights, and many others. The shop also has at least one huge event throughout the month. Last month was the release of Star Wars #1 by Marvel Comics so we naturally had to have a huge event for that. We were lucky enough to be able to have many cosplayers come to event that all my customers could take photos of. A former member of the 501st was able to come down in his Darth Vader outfit which made all the young kids dressed as jedi knights happy. If I can have an event where little kids get to fight Darth Vader with their lightsabers, I’m going to call my day a success. Other events have been live music, creator signings, and starting next month we will be hosting a comedy night which I’m looking very forward to it. All the comedians will be local and their some of the funniest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. The big HUGE one though I am looking forward to is Free Comic Book Day. I’ll be making sure that day is something my customers get a kick out of. Still working on it all though so I can’t say too much yet.
*Timmy also asked me to mention that on the grand opening of his shop all 300+ people who attended, had the pleasure of meeting Sergio Aragones, Mike Kunkel, and Jed Dougherty who all came out to take part in the opening and make it an experience for everyone in attendance*
As of this moment, what is your current favorite comic?
Super tough question for a guy that gets to surround himself by comics seven days a week but if I had to choose one of them, I’d have to say The Multiversity by DC Comics. It’s probably the best read I’ve had in a long time. The concept and execution is just brilliant. It’s written by Grant Morrison and every issue is drawn by a different artist. They are all stand-alone tales featuring different worlds of the DC universe yet all follow each other due to this cosmic evil comic book that is causing chaos throughout the multiverse of worlds. It’s pure sci-fi comic fun, its wrapping up in three more issues and I am really excited to see it all come to its conclusion.
Aside from comics and running the shop, what are some of your other favorite pastimes?
Truth be told, I do about 14- 16 hour days at the shop on average and when I’m not at the shop I’m still doing something shop related. There are the few rare moments of time though that isn’t the case. So when I get the chance, I definitely do like to kick back a nice fat stack of comics or graphic novels, play guitar, or hang out with the Black Canary to my Green Arrow- my girlfriend Angelea.
I want to again thank you for allowing me to spotlight you and your shop. If any of our readers want to contact you and come visit the shop how can they go about doing so?
I am contactable in many ways! Find me on Facebook under Timmy Heague. Check out the store online at www.arsenalcomicsandgames.com. Like the store on Facebook and Instagram by searching Arsenal Comics and Games. You can also follow me on Twitter with the handle @arsenalcomictim. Or if you want to email the store, shoot us an email at [email protected].
Any parting words?
If you’re looking for a comic shop with the best customer service, a clean store, and a selection of everything a good shop should have then I think my shop might be worth your time. Thanks!