Local comic shop aims to make a connection with students
Nestled in the back corner of the plaza located at 1620 S. Mission St., across the parking lot from Insomnia Cookies, is the Hall of Heroes, a small but vibrant comic book shop.
The store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except for Wednesdays, when the store gets new comics and is open from noon to 8 p.m.
Bright yellow posters that read: “MOUNT PLEASANT HAS A COMIC SHOP?!” have been pinned up on bulletin boards in hallways across Central Michigan University’s campus.
Many CMU students seem to be unaware there is a comic book store in Mount Pleasant, including Rockford junior Tanner Vesche, who said he would definitely go to the store if he knew more about it.
The store’s owner, Michael Shuler, is the man who made the bright yellow posters.
“We’ve been (on Mission Street) for three and a half years, and a lot of people don’t know we’re here,” Shuler said. “I’ve had a lot of people come in who will say stuff like, ‘I’ve lived here 10 years and I didn’t know you were here.’”
Shuler runs Hall of Heroes alone. In May, he will have owned the store for 13 years.
He bought it from its previous owner, who he used to work part-time for at the comic shop.
“I always wanted to own a bookstore since I was in high school,” he said. “It was a nice coincidence that I was able to buy it at that time.”
Hall of Heroes is filled wall-to-wall with shelves stuffed with the glossy and vibrant pages of comic books, but that’s not all the store has to offer. Shuler has friends who help him host weekly game nights, including tabletop games like HeroClix and Dungeons and Dragons, which takes place at about 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Before the store moved locations, it hosted many regular game nights and focused on gaming a lot more than it does now. However, Shuler said the tabletop gaming community is losing popularity as more people are gravitating toward online gaming.
“When we bought the old store, (the original store) had a very thriving gaming community,” he said. “When we moved here, it just kind of died out. It gave me an opportunity to focus on just comics, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”
In summer 2017, Shuler said many of the other business in the same strip mall folded. Due to that and major construction projects in front of the plaza, which blocked the view of the store, many customers assumed Hall of Heroes had closed too. The shop's business has slowed down.
Other times, people have had problems finding the store’s correct location, such as Milford junior Max Smolin.
"I knew there was a comic book store, and I want to go check it out because I love comics," Smolin said. “I have no idea where it is."
Shuler said this is a result of the company having to move so many times.
“There are websites that have us listed as being downtown (in Mount Pleasant), where we were 10 years ago,” he said. “Other places have us listed at our location from three years ago. It’s really frustrating.”
A lot of times, people find the store by accident, Shuler said. It’s not uncommon for someone to go to Insomnia Cookies or Shin’s Korean Restaurant, then stop by Hall of Heroes for the first time because they noticed it in the back of the parking lot, he said.
“I get a really good response when people do find us. It’s nice when people run across us eventually," he said.
That’s not to say that Hall of Heroes doesn’t have its share of dedicated customers, though. Next to the checkout desk at the front of the store sits a box stuffed with comic books that have been ordered by avid readers, who pick them up each Wednesday, when new comics are released.
When asked about his plans for the future of the store, Shuler laughed.
“We’re moving again in a few months,” he said. “The lease is up, and we’ll be moving at the end of April.”
Shuler is in the process of researching places for Hall of Heroes new location. He hopes to have a good idea for a location by early April, after which he will announce the new location on the store's Facebook page.