When you go to the Comic Book Jones Website you might notice the small blurb that says the store was voted #1 by Dark Horse fans. You may also be aware that the store is up for ANOTHER very prestigious award, the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. Heady stuff indeed!
So what does this all mean? Well these awards are driven by customer nominations and THAT means people are taking time to communicate to the comics community that CBJ is a pretty special place!
Now I will admit that I just MIGHT be a bit biased…(I can tell you’re shocked!) but I concur, Comic Book Jones IS a pretty special place.
Now before I expound further let me point out to those who don’t know. Even though I have been penning this column for some time I am not employed by CBJ, I related to any of the staff, nor has anyone from CBJ bailed me out of jail…recently. I’m a customer just like most of you reading this. I just happen to be a customer who likes to shoot off his (virtual) mouth on any number of subjects, so my opinions are my own! Add to that my basically misanthropic nature and getting compliments out of me is sort of like pulling adamantium from a stone!! I mean I’m the guy who said of Sinatra “nice voice but needs some seasoning!”.
Now that my disclaimer is finished...
What makes a comic store a special place to visit? I mean aside from the fact that most, if not all comic stores are stuffed with all sorts of fascinating items. These days you can buy just about anything you want with a mouse click and there are thousands of specialty shops to choose from, (Staten Island has at least three that I know of) that all have more or less the same items. So unless you happen to live within walking distance of a particular store, why pick one over another? Only one reason that I can think of…
Comic Book Jones has some pretty amazing people. The people who work there…the people who shop there…the wonderful gifted creators who visit there on a very regular basis…all of them (you) are the reason why people come to CBJ and why the store is so widely regarded as special.
It must have been only a few months after Comic Book Jones first opened that I decided to give it a try. I live in Tottenville and had been shopping at a store elsewhere on Staten island, about the same distance from my house as CBJ. On a whim I decided to give this new place a try. I figured if I didn’t like the place I could always go back to the other joint!
On my first visit I was hooked. Not by the merchandise but by the atmosphere. From day one I was met by people who actually SMILED, who took the time to chat, to know MY name…in short where I was treated more as a FRIEND than as a customer. Nor was I any exception. I quickly saw that the staff treated EVERYONE that way. In fact the FIRST thing Socko asked me after getting my name was if I wanted a cup of coffee! You see there is always a pot of fresh hot Joe for the asking. There are also chairs and couches where customers are ENCOURAGED to sit down and BROWSE. I talked comics and the hobby with the staff and some of the customers in the store for over an hour before I even began shopping! By the end of that first visit I felt as if I had been there for years. Now here is the thing that really sets CBJ aside…when I returned a week later no one had to ask my name or what I might be interested in reading. Socko, Tiger, Waffle…ALL of the staff remembered. The reason they remembered was that they all took the time to actually listen the week before. I can’t tell you how rare that is. And how welcoming. One week in and I was part of the “family”.
Over time I became more interwoven in the community of CBJ and Socko and Tiger asked me if I might like to write an occasional column for the site. They know a HAM when they see one but I think they got more than they bargained for! I think I’ve written over a hundred of these now! (can’t get me to shut up!) And never once was I asked to modify an opinion or change a word. That’s pretty special treatment let me tell you.
Now there was anything wrong with the other joint. It is a nice store and the people are polite. But that’s about it. No reason NOT to shop there, but no reason to go to VISIT. CBJ gives you a reason to visit. It’s not the events (though they are GREAT), not the books or statues or toys…
It’s a cup of coffee on a Saturday when you aren’t even shopping…it’s a long conversation with people who you never met but just happen to be in the store…it’s Gore taking the time to suggest a book you MIGHT like…it’s Waffle putting a variant on the side because he knows you will like it…it’s Tiger who is the may just be a bigger Yankee fan than I am…it’s Socko who absolutely MELTS when he gets around small children…and everyone who I failed to mention but who make coming into CBJ one of the best parts of my week.
Onward to San Diego!