When Marco Regalado noticed the small comic store, Pop Culture Paradise, sitting just off the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, he purchased the store from its previous owner. Why? After taking a look at the store, he says he noticed that it was not a particularly clean or organized place, it had a lackluster selection of merchandise, and it wasn’t hosting many activities and events.
With the new ownership and following the closing of Atomic Comics, Pop Culture Paradise’s “number of comic subscribers has doubled,” Regalado says.
Regalado owes its success not only to the recent closing of Atomic Comics, but also to how he conducts business. He says that running a comic store like Pop Culture Paradise is no different from running any other business. He says that “you need a product that people want, unparalleled customer service and a win-win attitude!”
Regalado says he does his best to live up to the “unparalleled customer service” part of that mission. He places the utmost importance on Pop Culture Paradise’s customers, saying that “customers are the lifeblood of any business” and not favoring any one guest over another. He makes it a point to treat both regular and new customers equally well, in order to make the newer ones feel welcome, and never hoards any particular items for himself or his employees; if it’s for sale, it’s available to any customer.
Being a comic and gaming store right next to a university campus has its advantages as well. College students and young adults are great customers at such stores, and Regalado says that “running a gaming/comic store in an area surrounded by over 10,000 students is a good idea.”
He’s able to get these students interested in Pop Culture Paradise mainly by two methods: by collecting email addresses for a newsletter he sends out with information on new items, upcoming events and the like, and by offering coupons with various discounts and special offers for ASU students. He also attributes the store’s success to simple word-of-mouth.
What does Regalado think of the future of comic book stores here in the Valley, especially after the closing of one of the more well-known stores? He says that he and other comic store owners have nothing to fear.
“The comic book industry is a collectible industry as well as good old-fashioned literature,” Regalado says. “It should be okay!”
Pop Culture Paradise sells more than just comics, however. They also sell many different kinds of games, particularly trading card games and other tabletop games. Not only that, but they also hold weekly tournaments and events related to a lot of the games they sell.
Regalado says that although running a comic and gaming store isn’t the most profitable business ever, he still loves what he does, claiming that if you’re in this business, you’re “in it because you love it and because you have the time to devote to it.”
For more information about Pop Culture Paradise, visit their website at www.popculture-comics.com.