It was 1983 when the third installment of George Lucas’ blockbuster franchise was scheduled for release.
Hundreds of U.S. theaters already had received “Revenge of the Jedi” posters when the filmmaker elected to change the movie’s name.
“He decided Jedi don’t seek revenge because they are supposed to be on the good side and changed it to ‘Return of the Jedi,’” said Mitch Ryan, the operations manager of Nerdgasm Emporium. “However, they had produced all the marketing items, and we have a copy of the original poster that was sent out to like 200 theaters.”
The printed poster — a must-have for “Star Wars” collectors — is among the store’s more than 100,000 vintage and new movie, television, music and art posters, Ryan said.
“Our bread and butter is obviously posters,” he said. “This business has existed in some form for almost 25 years with three different owners — all of which were hoarders of posters.”
Some of the posters date back to the ’60s and ’70s, including concert art for The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” album and tour.
“That one is actually only $70,” Ryan said. “The originals — the way I price them is, I get on eBay and look at the prices there and then go like $10 to $50 lower.”
Most of the store’s poster stock is available on its eBay page except for originals because of the cost of shipping and insuring them.
Ryan changed how the posters were being priced and shipped after coming on board about a year ago.
“They had a flat rate shipping set-up and were only averaging about 12 poster sales a day,” he said. “When you are shipping posters all over the world, you should have more than 12 a day.”
He started offering free shipping, which helped increase daily sales to between 60 to 70 posters.
“I realized what was wrong and fixed it,” Ryan said. “And now, in my opinion, we are selling more along the lines of what we should be.”
In July, Ryan persuaded the owner Carla Goyette to change the business’ name and open a storefront to showcase some of the more valuable posters. The store also began selling a variety of entertainment collectibles and toys.
“We realized we needed to be a little more encompassing than just posters, so that’s where the emporium and collectibles part comes in,” Ryan said. “We also are adding an area in the corner that will have local artists’ work for sale.”
So far, Ryan says the biggest challenge he’s faced is just trying to keep the doors open.
“We technically shouldn’t be in business,” he said. “When I took it over, it was to help liquidate, but I saw and see what can be here and pushed for there to be something more and luckily the owner was all about it.”
Beyond Facebook marketing, the store’s large window art, which includes “The Incredible Hulk” and “Deadpool” characters, also brings in new customers.
“We are off the beaten path a little but there still is a lot of people who drive on this road,” Ryan said. “We’ve been getting all walks of life in here. From grandma and grandpa to younger kids walking with their bikes, it’s really been a hodgepodge of people.”
Starting in October, Ryan plans to add family-style gaming nights for games such as “Dungeons and Dragons,” “Magic: The Gathering,” “Pokémon” and “Cards Against Humanity” for adult-only evenings.
“I want to be specific in what I am doing and not become what there already is a bunch of here,” Ryan said. “We don’t label ourselves as a comic book shop because I am never going to sell comic books. It’s going to be hard to sustain just as a poster and collectibles store but I believe if done properly it can be done.”