Having to stack merchandise up to the ceiling, however, is not.
That’s why Jake’s Memory Lane Comics recently moved from its too small and hard-to-find Oleander Drive spot to a new location on Market Street near Chopstix in the Market Station shopping center.
Jake Motsinger, who owns and operates the comic book store with his brother, Ben, said the additional 300 square feet they gained is what they needed. Originally the Motsingers hoped to open for Black Friday, but because of unexpected delays the new store opened in early December.
“We’ll have more space and more exposure for this place,” said Motsinger, 26.
He said the new store allows for more products – including apparel, statues and comics – to be sold.
The new location has less of a back room, which means more sales floor space. Restaurant-style tables also create a space for customers who are there to mingle as much as they are to shop.
Before moving, it was business as usual in the old, cramped store.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving the Oleander Drive store was busy and neatly organized. A neon Batman sign beamed from the front window.
Customers, mostly men, floated in and out looking for the latest comic or to closely examine a statue.
Motsinger said shop employees try to create a welcoming atmosphere, including saying hello to each shopper who walks in the door and talking with them over coffee.
“In a typical comic shop, the only interaction is when you’re handing them money,” he said.
Wilmington is home to three comic book shops. Nerdvana Comix is located in The Cotton Exchange near the downtown
waterfront and Fanboys Comics is on South College Road.
John Jackson Miller, curator for Comichron – an organization that tracks comic sales and trends – and an author of several Star Wars comics, said it shouldn’t be surprising that there are multiple comic book shops in Wilmington.
“The industry is in really good shape,” Miller said.
He said overall comic sales, across all mediums including digital versions, amassed about $700 million last year.
Miller said there was a boom in comic shops in the early to-mid 1990s, but there was a burst in the market several years later. Stores with steady clientele and good sales survived. Others, Miller said, shuttered their doors.
Nerdvana’s 2012 opening was part of the nearly 4 percent increase in the number of comic book shops that opened last year, Miller said.
Nowadays, the nearly 10,000 stores in North America are selling any of the 500 different comics printed monthly.
Statistics don’t lie. Comics are popular across the board, Miller said.
“I’ve watched this market for 20 years professionally,” he said. “The last couple of years have been the healthiest couple of years I can remember.”
And comics have only gained popularity with the release of movies portraying Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Spider Man.
Miller said comics are something that anyone can get into at almost any time.
“There’s a bunch of different on-ramps,” he said. “It’s not just all one thing.”
In the past, readers had to start from the very beginning of a comic to fully understand the story line, but distributors have wised up. Multiple issues of the same comic are being packaged together in graphic novels as a way for readers to join the fandom whenever they want to, Miller said.
Any stigma associated with being a comic book lover is noted by Motsinger and Miller, but the stereotype is a thing of the past, they said.
“We get more and more women all the time now, which is cool,” Motsinger said.
He said the standard customers are men between the ages of 18 and 40. But, as comics have become mainstream, customers do not fit into a specific mold anymore.
“The entire culture of this is becoming cooler,” Motsinger said.
Caitlin Dineen: 343-2339
On Twitter: @CaitlinDineen