Friday, May 20 2022

BERKELEY – Growing up in Union, Chris Blewitt and Pedro Pereira, both 40, met in sophomores and have been lifelong friends.

“As kids we collected comics and toys, and when we were teenagers we hung out and worked in our town’s local comic book store, Clockwork Comics,” Blewitt said.

After a year of studying and working at waiting tables and bartenders, Blewitt moved to the West Coast in 2001 to pursue a career in the film industry.

“I enjoyed producing and directing and being on set and it was a great experience,” said Blewitt, who worked at Sony Pictures in Los Angeles, then moved to Las Vegas and was an associate producer and assistant director on two films of the robbery of the casino. genre (including “Dirty Dealing” with C. Thomas Howell in 2011, available on Amazon Prime). Ultimately, “I came back to New Jersey in 2005 to be closer to my family,” he said.

Conquest Comics owners Pedro Pereira, left, and Chris Blewitt with famous Vera Bambi "cosplayer."

Moving to the Bayville section of Berkeley, “I was hoping to continue working in the film industry, but things had changed a lot and it was more difficult to secure funding and distribution given the emerging popularity of streaming services. “said Blewitt, who looked for a new opportunity.

Comic Book Shop: Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash walk down Broad Street in Red Bank

“Being a giant kid who loves comics, toys and games, I sold collectibles online for a while, but realized that I was very familiar with working in a comic book store. . While there had been three different comic book stores in Union, there weren’t many in Ocean County, so opening mine seemed like a no-brainer, ”he said. “My friend Pedro was waiting for tables and we were both looking for our next move, so I looked for ideas, asked him if he wanted to walk into a comic book store with me, and he was open to that.”

The duo envisioned several different spaces, including a mall store and a mall kiosk, “but they were either very small or the rents were astronomical,” Blewitt said.

Instead, they rented a storefront in Bayville, before moving to a larger space in the same plaza when a home appliance store moved. “We had inventory and money between us, bought other collections and named our store Conquest Comics because it sounded triumphant,” Blewitt said of their spring 2008 launch.

Conquest Comics owners Pedro Pereira, left, and Chris Blewitt with Freddy Flux, one of the Funko Pop brand mascots.

A “meeting place”

Almost 13 years later, “we specialize in new and old comics (some dating from the 1940s and 1950s) as well as high-end action figures, statues and replicas, graphic novels and a range of toys. in vinyl highly like comic versions of pop culture icons called Funko Pops, ”Blewitt said.

“With so many national chains and local toy stores closing over the years, there aren’t many places to buy cool action figures or collectibles, but our store is that go-to place,” said said Blewitt. “We have over 5,000 different action figures on our sales area, over 4,000 different Funko Pops and over 1,200 different statues in our cases; Plus, our comic book wall is home to over 800 unique books. and rare and we have one of the best collections of back issues from New Jersey.

While most comics cost around $ 4-5, and Funko Pops sell for around $ 12, prices for highly sought-after items can run into the thousands of dollars.

Berkeley Company: Wunder Wiener hot dog stand owner receives building permission

“Two years ago we actually sold the world’s rarest Funko Pop – the ‘Willie Wonka Golden Ticket Two-Pack’,” Blewitt said. “There were only 10 in the world and we had # 4. People took pictures of it and we ended up moving it to a collector in Las Vegas for a substantial fee.

Conquest Comics owners Chris Blewitt, left, and Pedro Pereira present one of the world's rarest Funko Pops - the “Willie Wonka Golden Ticket Two-Pack,” of which only 10 were made.

Working directly with Marvel / DC Comics and Funko Pop, “we also offered several exclusive products that were only available in our store,” he said. Among them, “we did an X-Men exclusive White Phoenix with Funko Pop in 2012, making 1,500 regular versions for $ 19.99 and 500 glow-in-the-dark versions for $ 29.99, which now sell for between $ 150. and $ 175 and about $ 600, respectively, ”Blewitt said.

Likewise, in 2014, the store offered a set of three exclusive Spider-Man comics for $ 50, which are now valued at over $ 500.

With their huge selection of comics and collectibles as well as a special sales event each May involving free comics, artist signings and live music, “we have a lot of customers. regulars, many of whom come every Wednesday when new comics are released, “Blewitt said of customers who travel from as far as New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to access their wares.

Joker: John Carpenter takes on Gotham City icon in Year of the Villain one-shot

Part of the expansive collection of comics, action figures, statues & replicas, graphic novels, and collectible Funko Pops available at Conquest Comics in the Bayville section of Berkeley.

“From a collectable perspective, high-end collectibles have really solidified as solid investments over the past one to two decades,” Blewitt said of this major industry trend. “For example, a copy of Action Comics # 1, which featured Superman’s first appearance in 1938, sold for over $ 3 million a few years ago. Fans and investors alike flocked to the issues. keys over the past 20 years and, like some stocks and works of art, some collectibles are appreciating at insane rates and selling for a lot of money.

A break with reality

Funko Pops: Geek at ThinkGeek in Toms River

After Conquest Comics closed last March due to the pandemic, the store made curbside pickups and deliveries until it reopened in June. As the only employees of the store, “Pedro and I didn’t apply for the Federal Payroll Protection Program loan because we didn’t want to take it from others who desperately needed it,” Blewitt said, noting that many comic book stores nationwide went bankrupt in 2020.

Part of the expansive collection of comics, action figures, statues & replicas, graphic novels, and collectible Funko Pops available at Conquest Comics in the Bayville section of Berkeley.

However, Conquest Comics’ online promotion / sale of personalized comic book and action figure packages for kids this Easter and the fact that the entire industry shut down for several months which meant that they didn’t have to pay and take possession of stocks they couldn’t sell – helped them through this difficult time.

In addition, “our many loyal customers have purchased other products or graphic novels that they have been looking at for some time to help us stay afloat, while our amazing landlord has erased two and a half months of rent for us, which we are incredibly grateful for, ”he said.

The Geekerie: Matawan’s Main Street Comic Bookstore

When reopening last summer, “the floodgates opened – people wanted to go out, spend money and buy things again,” Blewitt said. Armed with masks and social distancing protocols, “we were busy and had a solid holiday season.”

Part of the expansive collection of comics, action figures, statues and high-end replicas, graphic novels, and collectible Funko Pops available at Conquest Comics in the Bayville section of Berkeley.

From the allure of comics and collectibles, “people don’t realize how much this area branches out into everything; so many blockbuster movies, TV shows and video games are based on comics, ”Blewitt said. “They offer a break from reality and a place where you can let your imagination run wild. It’s a fun and exciting mix of fantasy and reality that transcends age, gender, and race.

While online competitors that lower prices and offer free shipping remain a challenge, “we have a wide range of merchandise, we always buy new product and we are one of the best comic book stores that I have. have never seen them, ”Blewitt said. “We look forward to offering more unique exclusives and welcoming signings and guest appearances to the store.”

As well as having many customers who have become great friends over the years, “I love it when people come in and are just in awe and don’t know where to start,” Blewitt said of the positive response from customers. that their store sparks. “You just don’t see a lot of stores like ours and it’s exciting to be able to offer the people of this region the range of products and the unique experiences that we offer.”

Owners Chris Blewitt and Pedro Pereira opened Conquest Comics in the Bayville section of Berkeley in 2008

Comic Conquest

Site: 657 Route 9, Berkeley

Call: 732-551-2164

The owners: Chris Blewitt and Pedro Pereira

Open: 2008

Website: www.conquest-comics.myshopify.com; to verify Comic Conquest on Facebook and photos of his new inventory every Tuesday Instagram

Previous

Harvard and Raven Bookstore Used Books: A Tale of Two Bookstores | Arts

Next

Bookstore Spotlight: Raven Bookstore

Check Also