By: Alexander Gault-Plate
OSWEGO – Evan Coy first walked into The Comic Shop on Oswego’s East Bridge Street as a customer, but within six months, he has taken over as owner and saved the shop from closure.
When Arlene Spitzman, owner of The Comic Shop since its opening in late 1992, announced her retirement in January, the future of the shop was called into question. Many thought that would be the end.
“I wasn’t planning to sell it; I was just planning to close and retire,” Spitzman said. “But then I had a number of people approach me about taking over in some way, and Evan was one of them.”
Coy was the manager at the Stewart’s Shops that had just opened across the street. He says that he first visited the store in August, after the comic shop’s manager came into his convenience store.
“The first day that we were open, I met Martin Kinney, who is the manager of the shop,” Coy said. “He had green hair and a Deadpool lanyard, so I knew he worked across the street. I followed him back over, and that’s when our relationship began.”
Coy describes his meeting Spitzman and Kinney as “serendipitous.” Spitzman was planning on leaving the business after almost 30 years, and he was looking for a career change. Not only was Coy interested in taking the business over, he has a life-long interest in comics as well.
“I’ve been a comic nerd forever,” Coy said. “I grew up on comics, it was a hobby as a kid and it’s turned into my passion as an adult.”
Coy said the decision to continue The Comic Shop under his ownership was made in early February. He said the decision was a quick one for him, as soon as he heard that Spitzman was planning to close.
When he talks about the future, Coy says that his main focus is to build on the foundation that Spitzman developed during her time with the shop. Both he and Spitzman say that the community surrounding the shop is one of its greatest assets, and something they rely on.
“We’ve got very strong community support,” Spitzman said. “We’ve had people coming here since they were 10 or 12 years old, and now they’re bringing their kids in.”
Over the past decade, the comic book industry has undergone major changes, as almost every other industry has. Online stores have become major competition to every local comic shop in the country, and the demographics of comic book readers have shifted as well. Coy said that one of the trends he is seeing in the current market is an upswing in children’s content.
“There are people who are interested themselves, who are my age bringing their kids in and introducing this to the new generation, so there’s a lot of kids’ stuff now,” Coy said.
Another area Coy says he has seen growth in is gaming, both tabletop and electronic. He and the shop’s technical assistant will be working on instituting a number of changes to include gaming and internet sales into the shop’s business model.
Although Spitzman is retiring, she said she still plans to work at the shop as needed, and there will be a transition period where both she and Coy will handle the major operations.
“We’re very happy that Arlene is sticking around to provide guidance, to provide a seamless transition so everyone gets to feel good about The Comic Shop’s direction,” Coy said.