Spotlight on Stores: Greater Dayton Area

After many years leading a nomadic lifestyle, one thing I have come to appreciate is the unusually large selection of comic book stores here in the Dayton area. From the long running Funny Books in Vandalia, to Maverick's, the only comic book store that was open on New Year's Day of 2003, it has always been easy finding what one wants. As a teenager, most of my purchases were made at the infamous Bookery Fantasy, as well as Dragon's Lair, a store that unfortunately closed down after 30+ years because as rumor has it, the owners divorced. Since leaving Ohio for school (and to generally maintain my sanity), a lot of new blood has come into the area. Friendly staff and a "new school" feel to these young establishments make them must-see stops for locals and out of towners alike.

1. TAF Toys Action Figures

Closed Monday
Tues: 12 - 5
Wed: 12 - 7
Thurs:12 - 7
Fri: 12 - 7
Sat: 12 - 5
Closed Sunday

37 S. St. Clair
Dayton, Ohio US

TAF first established an online presence before opening its doors, as the owners began with an ebay store. Though much of their sales are still online, nothing compares to seeing firsthand this mecca of toys and graphic novels. When it comes to action figures, TAF has the most knowledgeable owner of any store I've been to, making it perfect for collectors of rare toys. Looking for the final piece of your Fin Fang Foom? They probably have it. Want the San Diego Comic Con exclusive Joker figure? I know they have it. How about the Back to the Future II mini mates? Yup.

TAF manages to pack a punch with their limited space, so don't expect your browsing to be quick.
Toys! Trades! More than meets the eye!
Seen at the above right is the store's owner, along with my recent purchase of the Gotham Central HC.
 If you are in TAF and can't find the toy you're looking for, then it doesn't exist.

As much as I love toys, I'm far from a collector. But TAF has plenty to offer your average comic book reader as well. A whoooole lot of graphic novels, and most, if not all, are 50% off.  I would love to see this store establish itself and stick around the area, but they have recently started to cut back on orders. This may simply be a case of the owners deciding to focus exclusively on toys - but it is a bit worrying. They have stopped ordering comics except for pre-order, so don't expect to find individual issues on their shelves. It's still well worth a visit for their unique toy offerings, or graphic novel bargain hunting, and you'll keep coming back for the friendly staff. (Keep in mind, if you really love this store, they will still sign up new club members! Just make sure you put down everything you want on your pull list cause you won't be able to grab it off of the shelf here).

2. Bell, Book, & Comic

Closed Mondays
Tue: 11 - 8
Wed:11 - 8
Thu: 11 - 8
Fri: 11 - 11
Sat: 11 - 8
Sun: 12 - 6

458 Patterson Rd.
Dayton, OH 45419

If Cheers were a comic book store filled with enthusiastic fans and gamers instead of barflies, it might look something like Bell, Book, & Comic. My first visit to this store was on FCBD of this year, and I was  blown away by the welcoming atmosphere of this store. Customers are obviously comfortable when they lazily lounge on couches in the gaming room, and are on a first name basis with the store pets. It's the kind of store you want to come back to, just to hang out. In an industry with customers that continue to age, an inviting vibe is rare and also necessary to the survival of brick and mortar stores. Comics are no longer reaching millions of children through news stands and 7/11's, or attracting hoards of speculators out to make money on "collector's item". The industry needs stores like Bell Book to keep readers coming back, for comics, for trades, for toys, and above all, the interactive experience that is unique to buying comics face to face. I think many long-established stores have a hard time maintaining this kind of environment, as owners can become bitter about the industry or lose interest in comics. Nothing says "time to retire" like complaining to customers about the industry you work in. It's called "new management" and it can save your business from dying with you. But I digress. This is definitely NOT that kind of store. They've been around for seven years yet the staff has the enthusiasm of young go-getters, with the experience to bring you what you need.
During FCBD Bell, Book, & Comics was pretty bumpin', even at 6pm
You can just tell this guy is ready to help you pick the perfect die.
Dr. Crusher AND Diana Troi? Yes Please!
If you don't come here for the company, then you'll be more than happy with the merchandise. Tons of well organized back issues, an exceptional selection of new titles and trades, and pretty much anything you need to meet your gaming requirements. In fact, they have so many awesome products I have a hard time leaving this store empty handed. My most recent find? Parker: The Hunter HC for $10. This store has a lot of good things going for it; here's hoping they can keep it up.

3. Superfly Comics

Mon: 12 - 7
Tues: 12 - 7
Wed: 11 - 8
Thurs: 11 - 8
Fri: 11 - 8
Sat: 11 - 8
Sun: 12 - 7

132 Dayton Street
Yellow Springs, Oh
(937) 767-1445

Superfly may be the newest store to the area, but don't let that fact make you hesitant to visit. If there was any learning curve for this new business, they exceeded it shortly after opening three years ago. As the name implies, Superfly is very laid back, which isn't surprising considering they are located in the hippie centric town of Yellow Springs, about half an hour away from Dayton. So what makes this store worth traveling off the beaten path? Because the people who own the store don't follow the beaten path, and that's a good thing for us, the hungry customers. For instance, notice that they are the only store open on Monday. This is fantastic for readers like myself who shop on days that aren't Wednesday. Don't get me wrong, I love the scent of fresh new comics like most fans, but because my books are pulled at an out of state store, I can browse any day I want and not have to worry about my favorite title selling out. And I have Monday's off. So this store? On my good list just for that.

On a personal note, the above gentleman was my boyfriend when I took this photo. Later that day we became engaged!
Joss Whedon + Usagi Yojimbo
Here is another store featuring their $1.00 comic section - smart.
Yes, they made a comic book feat. that captain from Generations who bravely relinquishes power to Captain Kirk. Okay....getting off topic. Superfly is great!

Winning over new customers with convenience is a smart move on Superfly's part, but it's not what makes you want to stay. It's well lit (owners: this DOES matter in setting the tone for you store), so you don't feel like you're in a casino / basement while you shop, and everything is very well organized. Also, did you see the Joss Whedon section? Bonus points, right there. The staff is friendly, but they'll let you browse in peace, and they host super awesome events like a midnight release for the final volume of Scott Pilgrim. Which is great for fans like myself who thought the book was coming out this week because it shipped this week. Instead of feeling like an idiot for showing up on the wrong day, I will benefit from the situation! Look for coverage of this event next week as I venture to my first midnight (comic book) release.

To be continued with Part II where we focus on stores established in an earlier era, the "old school" if you please.