Remember the old WB Studio Stores that used to be around? I really miss that store. Originally opened in 1991 (with most of them closed in 2001), the store was the central hub for all the Looney Tunes and DC Character memorabilia you could possibly want, included statues, maquettes, and cels from the animated series. Unfortunately, when the economy tanks, so did a lot of specialty stores, like this, Planet Hollywood, the Disney Store, and more. Most have some branches open in only major metropolitan areas at this point.
But sadly, a central location for all your superhero shopping needs? Can’t really think of one. It’s a shame too, as most comic shops are just unable to purchase a steady amount of merchandise like that without the promise of sales on the items. Purchasing a $25 action figure is hard enough, but most of the more expensive items are special order only. Sometimes you’ll come across the rare comic shop that has a good selection (Brave New Worlds in Philadelphia comes to mind), but more often than not, you’re lucky to get a wall in the back of the store, and the most you’re likely to get is a selection of DC Direct action figures.
But given the popularity of comic characters nowadays, could you imagine walking into your nearest mall and seeing the bright shining sign of the DC Universe store? Come speculate with me after the jump!
Recently I went to Six Flags in Maryland (I spoke about my visit at length on a recent episode of Funnybooks) and really enjoyed the DC superhero aspects of the park. Though I won’t repeat myself much here (actually, how’d you guys feel about speculating about a Superman themed amusement park for a future ISoS? Tell me in the talkback below!), I enjoyed all the rides, but the biggest disappointment for me was not being able to ride the Superman ride. I’m not the smallest person, but I’m far from the biggest, and there was just no way that seatbelt was going to latch close for me. Seems a shame too, as I saw no viable safety reason to not extend the seatbelt – even the persons running the ride confirmed they couldn’t fit in it. Still, when you walk off of the roller coaster, you’re let off into a shop packed to the gills with nothing but DC superhero stuff. Memorabilia from the multiple animated series (yeah, I’m thinking some of the stuff is old), and wall-to-wall superhero t-shirts. Elsewhere in the park, there’s another store where there are different sections dedicated to different heroes. So you have a Superman section, a Batman section, etc. etc. The only thing missing is graphic novels.
Back during the height of the comics boom in the 90’s, it wasn’t uncommon to see a comic store in the mall. In fact, some publishers even had stores of their own in malls. I specifically remember a Tekno Comix store in Lynhaven Mall in Virginia Beach, VA. While I know that business didn’t prove ultimately lucrative, and comic stores in general are a tough sell to a general audience, I do think a DC Universe Store would do pretty well to take advantage of the current media obsession with these characters. And while floppies may not be a big sell in these types of environments, I’m thinking graphic novels would do pretty well, if the sales staff is knowledgeable.
I’d love to see a well organized (that’s the key component here), visually interesting, and general public friendly DC Universe store where we as fans and a general audience can both shop for items featuring our favorite characters. Though the super expensive memorabilia should be kept at a minimum, I’m thinking that if a Hello Kitty store can maintain sales enough to open, why can’t a store that sells Superman and Batman items. Bookbags, t-shirts, stuffed toys, glassware – a one stop shop for all things DC, as well as a special section specifically for New 52 graphic novels.
I mean, I’m not the guy who gets to make these decisions, and marketing folks who make more than me are clearly not pursuing an option like this. Still, with a potential Justice League movie on the horizon and (hopefully) a good Superman movie due out next year, isn’t it worth giving it a shot?
What do you guys think? In what kind of store would you like to purchase your Superman memorabilia?