On Wednesday, I went for the final time to Dragon Lady Comics. I've been shopping there weekly (more or less) since I moved downtown in 1985. That's a long time; and I'm very much a creature of habit. The store opened in 1979, having been a mail order business the previous year; and, according to the owner, John Biernat, he remembers me shopping there on the very first day. I wouldn't have thought I was all that
memorable! After all, we didn't meet again until seven or eight years ago. (He had a succession of managers look after the store.) Well, I guess there aren't all that many middle-aged women who collect comics. He must have had a mental image of "comic collector" that I totally didn't fit; and that made me memorable.
Anyway, the store did well for many years. It was badly hit by the recession, but staggered on—fewer employees working longer hours, basically. The final straw came last summer when the rent was hiked by about 25%. It was just no longer profitable to keep a storefront open. So the stock has all been moved to a warehouse for mail order sales.
If I was truly there on the first day, then I had to go in on the last day.
To cope with the shock, I took my camera down last December and snapped a lot of pictures; and then filled in some gaps last week, and again on Wednesday. I've put up a sort of "Memoriam" page
on my website, too: full of reminiscences. It helps, I think, to get a perspective on the whole time I shopped there.
Fortunately, the manager, Joe, has got some financial backing; and so a new shop is starting about a block away in space shared with two other comics-related businesses. Upstairs. (Street level stores are just too pricy.) Joe will be managing it. Since John Biernat's getting out of direct sales, he let Joe take over the contract with Diamond Distributors; and I think most of the Dragon Lady regulars are moving to the new store. It minimizes the disruption to their routine.
Still, it's always a shock when things go.