On SDCC's home turf, San Diego comic book stores struggle to survive

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jan 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 21:41:12-05

NORMAL HEIGHTS, Calif. (KGTV) – Popular comic book store, Villainous Lair, will close its doors at the end of January, according to manager Chris Mitchell.

Mitchell founded the shop in 2011 with owner, Alison Flynn.

What began as a small storefront later morphed into a large gaming and comic center, attracting customers from all over Southern California for its wide selection and knowledgeable staff.

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“When I moved to San Diego, this was the first place I visited,” said Robert Media Villa.

He applied for a job, but the staff was full.

Several years later he said he got a call from them and immediately took the job.

“A lot of people call it a home away from home, and that’s what it is to me,” he said.

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“For Lease” signs already hang outside the store on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.

Mitchell said they have been unable to pay rent for the last two months due to declining sales revenue - surprising perhaps in the city that calls San Diego Comic Con International home.

“There’s more shops opening, that has spread the customer base out,” he said as one possible cause. Though, he notes that several other stores have closed in recent months too.

“It’s a thing happening now. We’re all closing at the same time.”

The internet may be partially to blame, but Mitchell believes a bigger factor has to do with how mainstream comic book characters have become, stripping comic book stores of their unique place in the market.

“You can go to Walmart or Target to pick up some of these games,” he said. “That used to be just us.”

A GoFundMe has been set up by a loyal customer to try and save the shop.