Amazing Stories comic book store. Lasia Kretzel/News Talk Radio
Two Saskatchewan comic book stores have made the short list to be crowned top shop in Canada.
Amazing Stories in Saskatoon and Comic Readers in Regina are two of five finalists for the Harry Kremer Canadian Comic Book Retailer Award.
Rather than artists or writers, the annual award honours those who stock the shelves that feed the nation’s ever growing love of all things comic-related.
“It’s really encouraging, not only for the retailers, because we do put our heart and soul into what we do ... but also for the customers too. It’s kind of a feather in their cap because they’re the ones who are responsible for our success,” Amazing Stories events coordinator Jody Cason said.
The Harry Kremer award is named after the late owner of Kitchener, Ont. store Now and Then Books, who opened one of the first comic book speciality shops in North America and was very involved in the comic community.
To win, a retailer must sell a wide variety of material, have an inviting store and lots of knowledge, have good business practice and be active in the community.
“A comic book store is a little more than just a retail space. It’s kind of a community hub where people feel safe to come and talk about all the stuff they’re nerding out on,” Cason said, adding the sale and promotion of Canadian comics and artists plays a large role in their store and the community.
Comics line the shelves at Amazing Stories comic book store. Lasia Kretzel/News Talk Radio
Amazing stories has been nominated four times for the award but recently moved into their new location on 8th Street, giving them more space to display and host events. Since opening their doors in 1993 in a small shop across from the University of Saskatchewan, the store has moved six times, each time to larger location.
They started their own locally-driven magazine, which is now celebrating a year and a half of publishing. The store also likes to host games nights, parties and will showcase its first two gallery shows for local artists this fall.
“We’re continuing to foster the love and the passion for all of the difference genres and things that we sell here and make it more than just a retail place. It’s a little second home for a lot of people,” Cason said, describing how regular customers even offered to help the store move into its new home. “People feel like they’re part of us and we like that. We want them to be part of us.”
Cason said having knowledgeable staff has also earned them a lot of respect among the comic community. She said comic connoisseurs can discern between retailers who are in it for the love and those who are just there to make a quick buck.
The winner will be announced at Toronto ComicCon at the end of the month.
This year, four finalists are from the western provinces including Another Dimension in Calgary and The Comic Shop in Vancouver. The fifth finalist is Timemasters in St. John’s, N.L.
“Comic book stores tend to be very cooperative. We want the other guys to do well,” Cason said. “You're building a community so if they do well, we do well. Everyone benefits from that. So I hope we win but I'll feel good for the other guys who win because they're good stores.”