Meet Your Merchant: From collector to businessman
Robert Kirkpatrick, with a booming voice and wearing a Spiderman jersey, joked that he started his business after his wife complained he was spending too much on comics.
He had just finished more than two decades of service in the U.S. Air Force, where his childhood hobby had been hampered during overseas service. So when he got back stateside, he started amassing all the stories he missed out on.
“(I) probably spent more money than I should have, as my wife would say, catching up on all the back issues and story arcs that I missed,” he said.
So when the opportunity arose for him to invest in a friend’s comic shop and later take it over, his wife gave her full blessing for his lifelong hobby to become a new career.
“I did, and I do, have a pretty massive collection, so she thought if I could turn my collecting into a business, she would be completely supportive,” Kirkpatrick said, chatting before a backdrop of collectibles, crisp new editions of classic comic heroes, and new additions to the hero pantheon.
His shop – DK’s Sierra Mountain Comics, at 1801 U.S. Highway 50 East, Suite J – has been accumulating new loyal clients ever since. The loyalists – those who play in the shop’s weekly Magic: The Gathering card tournaments and have standing orders for new editions of comics – keep the shop afloat, Kirkpatrick said.
It is a tough time for the industry, he said, with less bleedover from the spate of comic book-themed movies and TV shows into his little brick-and-mortar shop. And since his business relies on sales of single-issues, usually at $2.99 a pop, times can be lean. He also gives discounts to loyalists who buy in bulk, further cutting into the margins.
“By the time you’re done, you’re making maybe 50 cents a comic, and with overhead and all of that, this just isn’t something you get rich off of,” he said.
Not that he’s complaining about being his own boss or surrounding himself with the stories he loves. Kirkpatrick said that even though the stress level might be higher than his past duties sometimes – “the person you blame is the person you see in the mirror” – it doesn’t beat the satisfaction of being your own boss and surrounding yourself with the stories you love.
DK’s Sierra Mountain Comics sells single-issue comic books, collectibles, trade paperbacks, tabletop gaming supplies, Magic: The Gathering cards and more. It also hosts tournaments and launch parties.
Address: 1801 U.S. Highway 50, Suite J; Phone: 841-4263; Online: Facebook.com/DKsSierraMountainComics
Hours: 1-5 p.m. Tuesday; noon-7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 1 p.m.-midnight Friday; 1-6 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.