Thursday, December 1 2022

Two years and 24 days after the building was destroyed by fire, Curious Comics is back at 844 Goldstream Ave.

The store, which has been run in Langford since 2010, was forced to close after a fire broke out in one of the residential units above the store on October 8, 2020. The smoke and water damage resulting from extinguishing the fire rendered the building uninhabitable, displacing the inhabitants and the comic book store below.

Now residents are slowly returning, and the store officially reopened on November 1. Owner James Watson said one of the biggest issues was the time repairs took to complete. Insurance helped cover some of the costs, but it ran out as a year stretched into two.

“I’ve heard of people who lost everything because they were cut off from insurance after a while.”

Store manager Ken Layden was working in the store when the fire broke out and recalled the uncertainty at the time.

“I didn’t really know what happened at first – there was a loud explosion-style noise. Then I was in the store with another customer, I looked outside because I saw some stuff on the floor and I looked up and saw the fire going up on the unit and then I just said to the other customer, ‘We should go.’ I didn’t even get a chance to lock the door.

This uncertainty continued over the months, not knowing if they would be able to return to the Langford store. At the time of the fire, the store had just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

“We closed at the end of March for almost two months. The onset of the pandemic has just shut down the comics industry as a whole. So we reopened in May, we were super excited, and then we got a job. We were already making adjustments at that time. And it wasn’t until four or five months later that there was a fire. So it’s kind of a second punch,” Layden said. “So to be able to come back is really good – to recover from that.”

Watson also runs a store downtown and another location in Nanaimo, which helped keep the dream of returning to Langford alive while they waited for building repairs.

“Pretty happy that we were able to survive like during this period. Super lucky that we have our other store downtown, because most of our super hardcore customers were able to come to downtown during this period. So if we don’t hadn’t had that, I don’t know what we would have done,” Watson said.

Both Layden and Watson said a lot has changed in Langford since 2020. Watson said that with new housing and other developments like the post-secondary campus just down the road at the intersection of Goldstream Avenue and Peatt Road, this should be an exciting time for the comic book store.


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