FAIRBANKS, Alaska — When you walk into The Comic Shop, manager Jared Jordan wants you to feel like you are among friends.
Located in a strip mall, the store’s quirky offerings, knowledgable staff and daily events — along with a loyal following — have helped it endure since 1975.
The Comic Shop is about more than selling people stuff, Jordan said. It’s about fostering a community.
“It’s a nerd community,” the manager said.
At The Comic Shop, you can buy T-shirts, board games, role-playing games, vintage video games, card games, figurines, posters, jewelry, anime, manga, “Magic: The Gathering” cards, swords and shields.
“I am here to provide what the other stores are not providing,” Jordan said.
Ninja stars are a big seller. The Comic Shop has sold so many ninja stars, Jordan joked, that Fairbanks is ready for a zombie apocalypse.
“I have actually field-tested every ninja star that comes in,” he said.
Also big sellers are plush alpacas, dice and fidget spinners. The Comic Shop also stocks candy and drinks.
“We try to keep Japanese snacks and drinks,” Jordan said.
Every day offers a different event, including a Pokemon Tournament.
“I try to be that place for people to be,” Jordan said.
The store also sponsors events at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fort Wainwright and the Tanana Valley State Fair.
Jordan carefully selects employees who are knowledgeable about comic books and gaming. Every employee has his or her niche of expertise. Jordan’s area is comic books.
“I say I found religion in Sunday school. That’s where I read my first comic.”
The Comic Shop gets a lot of business from rural Alaska, he said, and from tourists who wander over from a nearby buffet restaurant.
Many customers are surprised that a town with no Olive Garden has such a large hobby store, Jordan said. The Comic Shop has more than $1 million worth of inventory.
“People come in and they are, like, ‘Wow,'” he said. “That’s one of the best parts about this place.”
The store’s biggest competitor is Barnes and Noble, Jordan said. The Comic Shop maintains its competitive edge by listening to the customers and by carrying items no one else has, he said.
“If we don’t have it, I will look into it,” Jordan said.
“I don’t want to compete with corporations,” he added. “I want my customers coming back. I think we endured because we are ready to adapt.”
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com