"COME TOGETHER" 2004.....
....What a roller coaster of a year. After dealing with a massive theft that occurred, and working on rebuilding my inventory with the community's help and generosity, Chimp's was in for one of the biggest years of changes and lots of growth. The hobby was definitely coming in for a major upswing.
After the HUGE success of Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb's run on Batman for the Hush storyline (608-619), DC placed Jim Lee on Superman with Brian Azzarello writing. This story was met with mixed reviews but as always, Jim knocked the art out of the park. They began their run on Superman #204 and Jim made this cover as a bookend to his 2nd Print cover of Batman #608. These 2 covers would become so iconic that DC would use it as posters and they even made 2 statues.
June 30, 2004 saw the release date of the highly anticipated sequel to the Sam Raimi directed Spider-man. Spider-man 2 was a huge box office success bringing in a total of $373.6 Million in the US ALONE!! Keep in mind, at this time comics were $2.50 average as opposed to the $4-$5 they are currently and movie tickets were usually around $5-$6 each. Many had felt that this movie was the BEST comic book movie of all time (when it came out) with it's story feeling like it came right out of a comic book. Now Chimp's had been growing back to normal this year after the theft and I had many ideas on the horizon. Knowing that this movie was going to set records I decided this was a perfect time to get the word out. This was at a time that I really wanted to grow the business so I made the decision to advertise at our local theater (North Pointe Cinemas). At this point in time, this was a costly venture for me but I wanted to take the chance to advertise some things coming up.
Theater ads at the time were done as slideshows of still images (as seen here) instead of actual video commercials like nowadays. We were on the horizon of partaking in our first Free Comic Book Day, doing our first video game tournaments (Madden 2005 and Halo) and of course just wanted to advertise the store in general.
With this being our first Free Comic Book Day, we really didn't know what to expect. That day, Riggle and I set up to run a Magic Tournament, a 12 year anniversary sale and give away free comics to people. We had over 60 different people show up for Free comic books on top of regular shoppers for the sale and our tournament players.
That year we had a few titles and were limiting to 1 comic per person. The titles for that year that we carried were Archie, Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, American Power, Star Wars Clone Wars, Teen Titans Go, Duel Masters, Mickey Mouse, CSI, Image, and Spiderman.
August 2004 saw the release of Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales Identity Crisis #1. This mystery is a well written story featuring more of the B and C listers of the DC Universe but by the end of the story it makes you really care for them. This is a story that makes a great point about how "comics aren't just for kids" like DC had advertised back in the 1980s. It is a deep story with adult context without being an adult book. It rides that line of being adult while still being accessible to teens. This story is an emotional rollercoaster that I can't recommend enough to people. There is definitely more to be said about this mini series and how it opened peoples eyes, but it is best to not spoil it. This Crisis would lead into a straight sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths that I will cover in a later article.
Also in August 2004, we introduced www.chimpscomix.com to the world for the first time. We don't have a picture of the first build of the website, but that build was only online for a limited time before we revamped it to the image you see on the left. I contacted Greg Burkett to help teach me how to build it. We were ambitious and wanted to have an online place for our customers to visit with forums, an online store, articles and more.
Unfortunately, we kept hitting road blocks to get the inventory online. If we put what we had in our recently built computer database online, we would have to take each and every item off the website as we sold it. We also would have an issue with people's subscriptions showing as available when they were actually on reserve for someone. We knew this would cause more problems and we decided the only way to have the online store was to create an alternate database of products not available to a walk in customer. Thus having 2 different stores. This was honestly way too big of a task for me to handle and we eventually had to give up on that idea for the time being and use the website as more of a placeholder. The forums were fun for awhile but the web server we were using for the forums shut down and we didn't have a good "free" way to keep it running at that time. This was before social media was a huge as it is now. I started trying to keep up with the website to post upcoming tournaments, rules for tournaments and articles. I honestly got 1 article done due to my busy schedule (as I was still working 2 jobs) and found it difficult to keep up with the day to day running of the store and a website. Something had to give and unfortunately as fun as the website idea was, it just wouldn't pay any bills so I left it online as a placeholder to talk about our store to potential customers who might be researching us. Obviously (if you are reading this), things have changed a bit but still have an issue with having all of our inventory online short of taking every item off the online inventory as it sells. This is why we have limited inventory online currently but hopefully some day this too will change.
In September 2004, Magic; the Gathering started the Kamigawa block with Champions of Kamigawa. This set had a heavy feudal Japanese feel to it. It was met with mixed opinions from our local players. Some people were super excited to see Magic make a set like this as there was a little bit of a following for the Legend of the Five Rings card game from before due to it's theme. Some of the others felt like it didn't mix well with Magic's themes from before. This was thematically a big change from what most people were used to.
October 7-10, 2004 Chimp's Comix was closed for the weekend. The tanning salon that was next door to me had decided to move out and my landlord offered the space to me. We could knock down the wall and double the size of the store. Chimp's was brimming over with product and it was getting pretty tight in here. This was an offer that I couldn't refuse. It was a scary risk for me, but I knew that this was a risk I had to take if I wanted to continue growing the store. After seeing the show Extreme Makeover Home Edition, we felt we could do this task over the weekend. That show definitely makes it appear easier than it was.
On October 7, Chimp's started what would become an entire weekend of work. We had acquired the store location next to us and had to knock down a wall and expand. Chimp's was running out of room fast and we felt it was time to get some more room.
We had to empty out/condense the store so that the next day we could knock down the wall and put new carpet over the whole space. On October 8, Nick met the landlord and construction crew at about 7:00 a.m. The wall was quickly knocked down and the clean up had to happen next.
We quickly hurried to compact the store's products against the other wall so that the carpet could be finished after the first half was done. The carpet was the slowest moving process and ended a little after 5:00 p.m. It tied our hands for quite a bit of time. We put a couple of items in place for the night and started painting the walls blue and gray (Just like Batman's costume). We worked hard until midnight that night but had to call it so that we could get some sleep.
Saturday started early as well. We all started to roll in at about 9:00 a.m. This was going to be the biggest day of them all as we needed to try to get as much of the painting and construction done this day. We had an idea to wallpaper one entire wall with old comic books. Little did we realize just how long of a task this would turn out to be. We had to take each and every individual page and wallpaper it up. This process took 3 people at a total of about 35 hours to accomplish. We had decided that each of the people who helped could pick out 1 comic that meant something personal to them to put up on the wall. We only used books that were donated by Roy Peachey or books that weren't valuable at the time. I chose Batman #457 as that was one of the first Batman books I got as a kid, Roy chose G.I. Joe #21 as that is his favorite book and he is always looking for more copies. So if you have one you want to get rid of, we are willing to take a look at it. We of course had to put a Wonder Man #1 up there too ;).
Saturday was crazy however. Everything had to come together as quickly as possible. We did a restock on the comic books, put up shelves, repainted, set up the tournament area, and much more. Most of this day was setting up areas that could be finalized and setting up as much of the basic store layout we could. That night ended at about 1:00 a.m.
We returned Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. This day the plan was to finish painting, coat the comic wall with a clear coat, build more shelves, and generally set up the store for business. Things were hectic but by the end of the night, the store was near complete. That night ended at midnight and we were all exhausted.
It was now Monday, and we arrived at noon as many of us had other jobs to work at or we just needed a good nights rest. We had about 4 hours to restock everything and be ready to open for business in a new store at 4:00 p.m. We rushed around but finished restocking with minutes to spare. It was a long and hard task, but it was accomplished. The customers reactions were great. Everyone seemed to love the new store and was amazed that this could happen in 4 days.
We here at Chimp's Comix would like to thank everyone who helped make this possible.
Thank you very much:
Cindy (Momma Chimp) Kelley
Bruce, Leslie, and Krista Andrews
Ryan and Laura Riggle
Roy Peachey II and Kailea
If we have accidentally left you off this list, please let us know so that we may fix it.
Thanks again everyone!
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