James Bevins’ alter super ego is the Green Lantern. His wife, Garnetta, leans toward Wonder Woman.
By day the couple owns Heroes Hub, a corner-spot comic shop in Old Colorado City. But by night — well … they lock it up and go home. Even superheroes make time for dinner with their kids.
James hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, while Garnetta is from Louisiana. He was a mechanic in the Army and stationed in Colorado Springs, but got out of the military following shoulder injuries and surgery.
The couple was turning their basement into a theater room, but they were unable to find the memorabilia they wanted to complete the look.
“We had to go to several different places, and that gave us the idea to open a shop,” James said. “At first we weren’t even going to carry comics. We just wanted to do merchandise and apparel. But there weren’t any comic book shops on this side of town, so we used my medical pension and opened up.”
Heroes Hub offers graphic novel fans plenty of options. Racks of comics make up a significant portion of the store, but pop culture enthusiasts can also sign up for subscription services managed by the Bevinses.
“It never hits the shelf,” James said of those orders. “It goes into a filing cabinet and customers can come pick it up. If they subscribe, they also get protective sleeves for free, and those usually cost extra.”
Also available for sale are T-shirts, keychains, mugs and belts emblazoned with the images of heroes and villains from the DC, Marvel and Star Wars (as well as many other) alternate universes.
Recently Heroes Hub began offering custom printed vinyl decals and T-shirts, and James just began recording a podcast last week concerning all things pop culture.
The Bevinses have expanded services since moving from their original location. Three months ago, the couple signed a lease on their larger, current spot that sits two doors down from their previous incarnation.
The space on the west end of Old Colorado City was actually cheaper than a lot of other spaces they considered, according to the Bevinses.
“That was kind of weird because this is a tourist spot and you’d think it would be more expensive,” James said.
To control startup costs, they looked on Craigslist for secondhand equipment from stores that were going out of business.
The Bevinses added, since moving to the corner, business has improved thanks to increased visibility.
“When tourists come to this light [at South 27th Street and Colorado Avenue], they normally don’t cross the street in this direction,” James said. “They think that this is the end of the line, even though there’s more down here.
“We have this window space and people can see we’re here now. It’s helped a lot. And it’s a bigger space, and we get new comics every Wednesday, so the collection is rapidly growing. We definitely need room for them.”
In order to extend business beyond the tourist season, Heroes Hub aims to host monthly events, including free comic book days. For instance, the shop has organized a Batman event Sept. 17, and sponsors cosplay (costume play) contests with prizes for the winners.
And while every other movie release lately seems to have a comic connection, they don’t necessarily boost sales.
“The height of superheroes was probably about two years ago,” Garnetta said. “I’m afraid, over time, the market might become too flooded.”
But comic convention attendance is still up, she explained, adding Colorado Springs has a “ton of comic book events” every year.
Online retail, however, appears to be the kryptonite to their brick-and-mortar business.
“We did consider going web-only,” Garnetta said, “but we opened a store because a lot of times, when someone buys a collectible, they want to see it. You could get something online that’s been damaged and then you have to send it back and wait for something else to come in, if they even have it in stock.
“It could be a limited edition item,” she continued, “and if it’s damaged, there’s a great chance you can’t get another one.”
As to whether most of their customers are casual enthusiasts or hardcore collectors, Garnetta said it’s a mix.
“We get a wide variety,” she said. “We might get someone in because they heard about the store and they want to buy something for their kid, or for their son who is 30.”
“Sometimes it’s the kids bringing in the parents, or the other way around, where it’s the dad who is geeking out in front of his kid,” James said.
He said the profiles of graphic novel enthusiasts are so varied because there are so many storylines.
“You remember the movie ‘Big Trouble in Little China’? They have a graphic novel series based on that.”
While he’s been a fan of the characters since childhood, James said it’s only been within the past six months that he’s read his first graphic novel.
“I’ve always loved the stories, and I grew up watching Spiderman and X-Men. I just never read the comics,” he said. “But I’ve recently started. You have to know what you’re selling, right? People laugh that I own a comic book shop but I’m not an encyclopedia.”[su_box title=”Heroes Hub” box_color=”#005ac3″]Location: 2702 W. Colorado Ave.
Contact: heroeshub.us; 203-4031[/su_box]