By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Dziobak has been buying comics for 35 years. This fall, he will open a new store, Secret Crisis Comics in Chelsea, MI.
Secret Crisis Comics will be a retail comic book and game store with a back issued supply of comics, paperbacks, and games, with new books coming in every week. The store will also carry various collectibles, like Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Dr. Who, just to name a few, in addition to vintage Star Wars items from the 70s and 80s.
Dziobak and his wife moved to Chelsea in 2014 from Boston. After living there for 15 years, they decided to move, looking for a better cost of living with a closer proximity to family.
He wanted to open a business in his adopted hometown. It’s something he wanted to do for a while, but as an attorney in Boston he didn’t have the time.
Dziobak began buying comics in 1983 and told The Sun Times he’s been collecting continuously since about 2000.
It’s been a little over a year since Dziobak committed to going all in starting his comic book store and besides a few generic books for guidance, he’s gone about the whole process with nothing but a can-do attitude.
“The learning curve has been pretty steep, and it has a lot more to do with the minutia, finding a vendor to go through, getting all the vendors lined up for products, setting up as far as credit card servicing, point of service terminals, purchasing things you wouldn’t necessarily think about, like a sign for the building,” said Dziobak.
One of the bigger challenges Dziobak has faced is deciding what to have to make his business a success.
“Wrapping my head around products, trying to determine what to get for people. I want to have stuff for people not just buying,” said Dziobak. “The store isn’t an extension of my collection, it’s not. The back issued stuff is mine but as far as what’s there, I want to have stuff for everybody. Not just stuff I like because that’s not necessarily what everyone likes. The hard part is trying to keep a pulse on the market and buying what is popular.”
While the generic books helped to an extent, they were almost too broad according to Dziobak, with his knowledge of comics and history of buying them, he’s had an idea on how to organize the business, breaking his objectives down into manageable categories like sales, staffing, and physical needs like getting the proper shelving up or the proper signage.
After not finding any available property in downtown Chelsea, Dziobak knew he wanted to stay in Chelsea to help establish roots in the community. He found a retail space near the intersection of Old US Hwy. 12 and S. Main Street that worked for his budget, location wants, and the timing of the lease.
The name of the store, Secret Crisis Comics, pays homage to Marvel and D.C. comics but has evolved into its own form.
“Every year they (Marvel and D.C.) do big crossover events to sell more issues,” said Dziobak. “Marvel uses the word ‘secret’, D.C. always has ‘crisis and in the past year its evolved not into a play on words but to more, secret crisis kind of being almost like a secret agent-themed thing. Right now, on the business card the word ‘Secret Comics’ is kind of redacted, our logo is a smiling guy with a bar across his eyes, so you can’t see his identity. Now going with a spy type thing, that type of secret, its evolving.”
Ideally, Dziobak has his eyes set on Sept. 15 as the grand opening but didn’t rule out the possibility of a soft opening before that.
With a little under a month until his ideal opening date, Dziobak already knows what he needs to knock out before then.
“The things that slow me down aren’t inventory related,” said Dziobak. “Shelving on walls, got to get those installed this week. How to do shelves that won’t damage the materials, put together two glass display cases. Comics are ordered two months in advance. I’ll start getting deliveries the first Tuesday of September. Even if I’m not open, I’ll be there starting to stock the shelves.”