Superheroes, anime, sci-fi oh my! Retro Rocket Comics and Toys is gearing up for Free comic daythis Saturday, May 7, at their new location in downtown Galt.
“It’s always great to see the kids and give away free books,” says owner Chris Chettle, delighted to see the community come together after a tough few years.
“My regulars are always looking forward to it and this is probably my most asked question on Facebook and Instagram, for example, are you still having a free comic day?”
But the big day for comic book fans isn’t the only reason Chettle is ready to celebrate.
After 20 years on Dundas Street, the staple of the Cambridge comedy scene is ready to show off its temporary new location in Galt town centre.
They are now in the aisle of 28B Main St. and will cross the road to a permanent storefront on Main Street this summer.
Chettle had wanted to move Retro Rocket to a downtown location for quite some time, but could never find the right time.
Instead, the right time found it with a forced move that happened at the end of their lease at the end of April.
“The time came when we needed to find a new location and now we are right in the city center with lots of foot traffic. This experience kind of accelerated a movement that we are already considering,” Chettle said.
The timing could have been better, but the store owner sees it as a great way to let regulars know about his new location and attract new customers in the process.
Retro Rocket has only missed one comic book day in 20 years, and Chettle says they had a good reason.
They had just opened their store and the free comics event was also in its first year.
He’s been an avid attendee ever since and says that during the pandemic they’ve taken the events outdoors so readers can support their local comic book store while adhering to COVID restrictions.
Fans of all ages can check the event website to see which comics will be available on Saturday, all coded with age-appropriate stickers.
Chettle attributes the recent surge in consumer interest in comic books and collectibles to the fickle nature of fandom.
He says one month comic book sales will be up and one month later toys are up.
For Retro Rocket, it’s all about predicting the ebbs and flows and embarking on the next big thing.
“I think as soon as they find out that digital comics aren’t free, they want the physical,” Chettle says. “It’s one thing to pay $4, but if your option is $4 for a physical copy or a virtual copy, people are going to want that thing that you can hold in your hand.
To publicize Saturday’s event, Chettle toured several local businesses, introduced himself and asked if any were interested in participating in the free book event.
It will set up tents and tables in the main street aisle to allow for more distance and sales of comic-related merchandise from other vendors.
In a few weeks, the city will close lower Main Street to vehicular traffic for its patio program.
It’s something Chettle wishes he had started sooner, so Free Comic Book Day might be part of it, but he understands it’s just the luck of the draw.
“You have to roll with the punches,” he says. “That’s why I shopped around to local businesses and made connections.”