By providing a welcoming environment, Cheese Boy Comics, 8060 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 125, has established a community and become a second home for comic book lovers and novices.
“I just moved here last year and didn’t know anybody or have any friends here,” said Shelby Schatz, who patronizes Cheese Boy Comics daily. “Then I found this place and felt so welcome that I started coming a lot just to hang out. Everything is cool about this place, from the comics to the games, and Colby is really welcoming.”
Colby Williams, the store’s owner, said he opened Cheese Boy Comics to have a fun work environment that would also provide an enjoyable place for locals to hang out and enjoy comic books and card-trading games.
“We really have a community of people who come here all the time, but new people are always coming in, also,” he said. “It is just a fun place to be, not just for us who work here but also for everyone else that comes in through the door. Comics and games really are for everybody, and we have the space for that here.”
Williams, who named the store for his childhood nickname, reopened it in 2012 after having had another Cheese Boy Comics in the east valley from 2000 to 2004.
“After I closed the store in 2004, I worked for a convention company doing setup and dismantle,” he said. “I also did a number of other different jobs and ended up in accounting. It was then that I realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life sitting in a cubicle, so I decided to open the store again.”
Williams closed the first store because expenses were high as it was open during the height of the economic boom. As comic books are not necessity items, many people stopped purchasing them once the economy slowed down.
“Now that I have experience with the business and how it works, I came at it from a different angle so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made the first time around,” he said.
As a result of Williams’ experience, Cheese Boy Comics has had more success this time than it did before, Williams said.
“We definitely have no problem paying our bills,” Williams said. “Business has been really good with all the movies that have come out, such as ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Batman.’ Because of things like that, there is a lot more interest in comic books than there has been in the last couple of years.”
According to store employee Megan Hanson, while the store has been successful because popular culture has increased the popularity of comic book characters, the business also relies on Williams’ hospitality.
“The only reason I got into comic books is because of how nice Colby was,” she said. “He is the nicest comic book person I have ever met in my entire life. Before meeting him, I never had an interest in comic books, and now I read them all the time. I feel like I have the best job ever because I do amazing things and meet awesome people all the time.”
Hanson said she began patronizing the store to participate in “Magic: The Gathering,” a trading card game. Tournaments are held at 6 p.m. every Friday inside the store. It was then she met Hanson, who gave her a few free comic books to check out, and she fell in love with them.
“Just like I came back and now I even work here, a lot of people have come back and become regulars because of Colby and because of our environment here,” she said. “If you have no experience with comic books or with ‘Magic,’ we are always nice, happy to help and welcoming so people are not intimidated and can get involved.”
“It’s seriously almost like I live here because I come every day and play ‘Magic,’ hang out and feel like I belong,” Schatz said. “From the first time I came, I have seen the community grow larger and stronger. It’s really a great place for anybody to hang out and have a good time.”
For Williams, having a place open where people have can fun and feel welcome while being exposed to something new was worth the effort of opening the store for a second time, and he said he looks forward to having it open for as long as possible.
“Having this store is the best thing for me. I have so much fun here, and I am glad I get to share other people’s imagination with the comic books and allow a space for people to come here and hang out,” he said. “This is a fun and safe place to do that.”
Hanson said, “It is great to be in an environment where people are nice and welcoming. That is important for any store but very unique for a comic book store.”
For more information, visit cheeseboycomics.com or call 702-938-5020.
Contact reporter Maria Agreda at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mjfagre.