After four years on N. Charles Street, comic book shop Collectors Corner plans to close the doors of its Mount Vernon store permanently at the end of February, one year after owners mulled shutting down the location but ultimately decided to keep it open.
The company says its two other locations, in Parkville and Bel Air, will remain open.
An employee at the Charles Street location, Michael Bull, referred questions to owner Randy Myers, who wasn’t on the premises and didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In a message on its website, the company said it wasn’t economically feasible to keep operating the Charles Street location.
“4 Years is a Good Run,” the message said in part. “Unfortunately, the Store just isn’t doing well enough to remain open and we will be closing permanently on 2/29/2020. Giving it 4 Good Years, it’s just time to move on for now and continue serving customers at our other locations.”
This is the second time in two years that Collectors Corner announced a “store closing” sale for its Charles Street location. Last year, the company launched a similar sale but the owner changed his mind and kept it open.
The company warned customers it isn’t won’t do the same this time.
Unlike last year, “we will not be reopening this Location or changing course no matter the turnout,” it said on its website.
Collectors Corner started in 2001 with its Parkville store at 7911 Harford Road, and that will continue to be the flagship. Its Harford County store opened almost six years ago at 17 N. Main St. in Bel Air, followed by the Charles Street location. All sell comic books, graphic novels, toys, games and figures.
At the Charles Street store, prices have been cut 60 percent on most merchandise. Starting Feb. 17, the store will take 65 percent off the original price of most items. On Feb. 29, the store will have a customer appreciation closing party and will take 90 percent off the original price of most items.
Dozens of customers came to the store over the weekend, and many left with armloads of books, games and toys.
Many said they came specifically because of the sale, while a few said they’re regulars who would have stopped in anyway. One visitor said it was his first time there. Several said they don’t have cars, live downtown and can’t easily get to suburban locations.
Eric Filemyr, a program officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said he can remember when there were four comics shops in or near downtown. He said bricks-and-mortar shops today have to compete with Amazon, which acquired a large digital service called ComiXology that markets comics aggressively online.
Filemyr admitted that he reads digital comics as well as print comics, “so I guess I’m part of the problem.”
Jordan Clark, a comics writer and pre-school teacher at Georgetown University, said he lives near the Charles Street store and stops in regularly. He said not having a car makes it hard to get to the other locations, but “I’m going to figure something out.”
Customer Sam Parelhoff said he doesn’t think there are as many collectors as there once were, and Amazon is a tough competitor. “I love the medium, but I think the online trend is working against it,” he said.
In a 2018 posting on its website, under the heading “Support Your Local Comic Shop,” Collector’s Corner noted that “the comic book industry has seen many, many comic book stores close over the past few years.”
Benn Ray, a co-owner of Atomic Books who worked at the former Geppi’s Comic World in Harborplace, said he didn’t think the closing of Collectors Corner in Mount Vernon is necessarily a sign of larger trouble within the industry, especially since the owner still has two other locations.
Ray said Atomic Books sold more comics in 2019 than ever before. “We treat them with the same level of respect as books and magazines.”
But he also acknowledged that Amazon is aggressive about pushing free digital copies of certain comics and working to cut comics shops out of its distribution system.
“Comics have always been a tremendously difficult business to be in,” he said. “You have to sell a lot of comics to make it work, and they’re not returnable… It’s always on the verge of implosion.”