College students are less popular demographic among local comic book stores
In Mount Pleasant, Central Michigan University students have two choices of shopping venues for comic books: Comics Central and Hall of Heroes.
Located at 2265 Broomfield Road, Comics Central was opened in 2003 by Jim Foster. He ran the shop full-time until three years ago, when it was no longer profitable to do so. The shop is now open from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“Anywhere right now, there is a market for comics,” Foster said. "And I think the best times are yet to come."
Foster grew up reading vintage comics he borrowed from his friend. He said the visual aspect was what appealed to him most as a kid.
Comics Central's location and other factors such as high gas prices and the weather greatly affect the business, Foster said. He usually gets around 20 customers per week in the store, most of whom are regulars.
Tim Kretzschmar, a collector of "X-Men" comic books and one of Foster’s best customers, visits the store every week. The St. Louis native said he can always depend on Comics Central to have what he is looking for.
Another destination for members of the comic book community is Hall of Heroes LLC, 316 N. Mission Street, which will be celebrating its eighth anniversary this May. Store owner Michael Travis-Schuler said around 100 customers visit his store per week.
"It's been a steady business for me," Travis-Schuler said.
Though Hall of Heroes does not deal in collectible comics, the shop gets a lot of its business from selling supplies for tabletop games like "Yu-Gi-Oh" and "Dungeons and Dragons." Tournaments for these games are also held at the shop several times a week.
Freshman Mackenzie Potter comes to the shop every Friday to compete in "Magic: The Gathering" tournaments.
“I have always been on the nerd side,” the Ohio native said. “When I moved here to go to school, I met some guys who taught me how to play and showed me this place.”
The customers at the comic shops are generally between the ages of 18 and 40. Both store owners said college-age students only make up about a third of their customers, with males over 30-years-old being the largest demographic. Between 10 and 15 percent of their customers are female.
According to the Comics Chronicles website, comic books sales in North America have been risen steadily since 2001, which is the year before the "Spiderman" movie came out.
Foster said the popularity of movies based on comic books is a major reason for the growing comic book sales. He predicted that many of the younger fans of these films will start buying comics regularly within the next few years and their business will create a boom in the industry.
Travis-Schuler agreed and added that the effects can already been seen.
“The comic movies always drive in new people,” the 55-year-old Chicago native said. “'The Avengers' movie drove in a lot of girls and so did 'The Walking Dead' TV show.”