‘When there was nothing to watch, comics kept rolling’: Comic book and gaming industry thrive amidst pandemic

Business

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The coronavirus pandemic has brought some of the world’s most lucrative businesses to a halt. For one industry, however, COVID-19 hurt, and then it helped.

Steve Anderson, owner of Third Eyed Comics, has been selling comic books for 12 years at his store locations in Maryland and Virginia.  His newest location in Short Pump just opened to the public on November 21.

Third Eye Comics Short Pump location. (Photo: D’Andre Henderson)

Anderson said with many public places like movie theaters still closed due to COVID-19, locals are turning to comics and games for fun.

“There are no new TV shows or a lot of Netflix shows to choose from,” Anderson said. “When there was nothing to watch, comics kept rolling. Comics kept providing something episodic, every month, every week —something new.”

CNN reports that toy maker Hasbro is reporting a jump of more than 20% in board game sales during the pandemic. However, Hasbro’s overall revenue fell 4% because of television and film production setbacks during the pandemic that would influence the purchase of associated toys.

Anderson said his business had to offer new services in order to keep the blinds up.

“We started doing a delivery service and that was crazy,” he said. “We were probably doing about 40 to 50 orders a day.”

Anderson shared that his stores started to sell vinyl records, skateboards, digital art and other items that fit their product line, in order to make sure their employees kept their jobs.

“We weren’t able to keep everybody, but we were able to keep a big chunk of people,” he said. 

The first few months of the pandemic caused confusion for Steve Smith, owner of Alpha Comics and Games at Willow Lawn.  

Alpha Comics and Games at Willow Lawn. (Photo: D’Andre Henderson)

“Much like everyone else in the business, it was much slower over the first couple months,” he said. “And it impacted our sales in a big way.”

But Smith said business is much better now.

“We are in a much better place than we were just this summer,” he said. “It was really tough to adjust to everything so quickly, but we did it.”

Smith said he hopes more people will continue to turn to comics for their entertainment because it allows you to escape your reality for a little while.

Merchandise available at Third Eye Comics. (Photo: D’Andre Henderson)
Third Eye Comics offers an array of genre’s for comic books. ((Photo: D’Andre Henderson)
Third Eye Comics started selling skateboards once the pandemic began. (Photo: D’Andre Henderson)

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