It’s Wednesday morning and things are already bustling inside Heroes Comics.
“I’ve got like 25 people in here right now,” says owner Dave Allread, almost too busy to chat.
Some of that’s because it’s “new comic day” and this month’s titles just arrived to the store. That always brings a crowd.
The rest is because word’s out that Allread will be closing up shop in a few months.
“It’s been a good run,” he says.
“It’s just time for change.”
There’s a hint of sadness in his voice.
Allread has operated Heroes from this storefront in Fresno on Shaw Avenue (near Blackstone) for 23 years.
For a decade before that, the store was on Blackstone Avenue (near Shaw) in a space that used to be a Circuit City.
Over the years, Heroes was a place to buy comics — and superhero-themed toys, collectibles and the like — but also a hub and gathering place for comic-book fans. It’s the kind of place a reporter might go to get a sense of what people thought about the latest “Batman” movie or the like.
To be clear, Allread did get a bit of a push into retirement.
Posting on the store’s Facebook page Tuesday, Allread said he’s been trying to renegotiate a lease for the space since May.
The new lease terms would increase rent significantly over the next three years — by 50% and then 70%.
“I just cannot do that,” he wrote.
“In a perfect world, I would have probably gone another couple of years, but I just turned 61 and I have two grandsons in Tennessee (the youngest I have only seen once) and I want to visit on a more regular basis.”
A booming business for comics
The business has been doing well.
Allread told KMPH in 2021 that the pandemic had led to a surge in comic book fans.
He hadn’t seen so much interest in the industry since the 1990s and was having trouble keeping his inventory stocked.
Last year was the second most profitable year Allread has had since he opened.
Sales happening now
In his Facebook post, Allread hinted that there might be a future for the store without him, though he would “not turn everything over to someone who would not continue with the level of service or commitment to comics that you have received.”
The current plan is to sell off the inventory.
All back-issues, trade paperbacks, toys, posters and cards are currently on sale at 50%, Other items will go on sale in the next few months.