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Finalist Q&A: True Believers Comics & Gallery
by Jordan Wed, 06/17/2009 - 16:06
True Believers Comics & Gallery is not only are a retail space for comics, books, DVD rentals, and related schwag; it also acts as a community center for locals, a safe place for kids of all ages to hang out. True Believers also support local art and reading events.
How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what, or who, is your main source of motivation?
Santa Fe did not have a comic book shop when we took over. And once we did, we had people thanking us--not just bc we would be a fun retailer, but bc we would be a place in the community where people of all ages could gather and enjoy creative media. Literally, we were moving in our furniture 6 years ago and we had customers stopping by not only begging to help us, but just wanting to shake our hands for making a friendly place for comics!
What is a unique feature of your business?
There are several--but definitely the art and connection to artists, not only professionally but locally. We sell and trade minis for local artists, and try to bring in pros as much as possible to do free signings, school visits and workshops. We just supported (in May 09) a K-7 community art project called ArtWorks in Santa Fe--where kids made up their own superheros, wrote a little bio about them (if they were old enough)--and the event was hung in the convention center where the mayor and I came to say how awesome it all was. Drawings at the door were for gift certificates back at the shop. It was so great! We hope to make a fund-raising book for ArtWorks with the kids drawings and bios.
What are your thoughts on the connection between small business and the local community?
For Santa Fe it is integral, vital even. As a small town we are suffering from some of the national issues, but also from a local wage hike--wonderful as it sounds, we all have to pay our employees a living wage (approx $10/hr)--no matter how many employees (we have 3), no matter their education (including HS or just grad). It's making bigger congloms move in and take over and smaller businesses fold. No one wants to buy comics at a Borders! They want to come in to a clean, small shop that knows everything about everything in the biz--and to bounce questions like "Who's faster? Superman or The Flash?" with a guy who actually thinks about such things like my manager! Local businesses and boutique shopping are the heart of our town and I suspect others of similar size around the country.
Why should the Idea Cafe regulars vote for you?
We're awesome! I don't know what it is about that little shop--if it's the outreach we do or the kids and adults that co-mingle looking for some great story to read--or if it's the vibe or what, but we have had just all kinds of love (from all ages, all sexes) pour in. So much so that I just want to see it survive these financial hard times, no matter what. We are barely squeaking by breaking even, but we'll make it. People know we're nice and we like fun things--and when times are hard, they come in just to feel like everything is okay. People need a hero and we provide.