By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
East Side Mags will move from its S. Fullerton Ave. location to the former home of Crazy Mocha on Bloomfield Avenue.
The comics shop made the announcement Wednesday on its social media feeds. It’s planning the move for Nov. 1.
“More space for #comics, #fun, #signings, #classes, #gaming and so much #more!!!” East Side Mags wrote on Facebook.
The new location will have a space in the back dedicated for the monthly Sunday Dungeon and Dragons game (currently virtual) and for its weekly Saturday morning cartoon club, a drawing class for kids.
And once the store is settled in the new location, East Side Mags will resume its signing events with artists and writers.
“We’re looking forward to our new view and our new location,” East Side Mags owner Jeff Beck said.
The new space will be bigger than the current store — ideal for many people’s re-emergence from isolation and social distancing in the COVID era.
Beck said customers and collectors will feel more comfortable in the new location going through the several bins, stacks and boxes of comic books the store has — a time-consuming, meticulous task for fans — without being shoulder-to-shoulder with one another. Customers will no longer stand off to the side waiting for someone to finish.
“I think just the atmosphere in general will be really beneficial to everybody,” Beck said. “With the larger space comes the ability to do more and offer more.”
Last year, the store suffered the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Beck temporarily laid off his employees during the initial lockdown. He worked by himself during that time, attending to the store from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., handling curbside pickups, just trying to stay afloat. Distributors and manufacturers that usually brought new products on a regular basis halted all deliveries, and it was up to Beck to think of ways to keep customers engaged.
“It was up to me to figure out what I had on the shelves that were maybe not new, but new to somebody,” Beck said. “Reach those people and say: ‘Hey did you ever read this old Spider-Man story?’ ‘Did you ever want to read this old Batman book?’ Just figuring out ways to make old inventory new again.”
But when the store reopened in June of last year, Beck was able to bring the two employees back, he said.
Customers, and the community in general, were supportive of the store. Customers bought gift cards, and donated cards to essential workers, he said.
With the donations, the store came up with “kids comic packs,” which included age-appropriate comic books that were donated to daycare centers in the area that were taking care of the kids of essential workers.
“The community itself really rallied around Montclair shops in general over the last year,” Beck said. “People were just super supportive.”
The store will continue operating at its original location until Nov. 1, and Beck is hoping customers will continue visiting the store after the move.
“This is an upgrade. This isn’t goodbye. This is just us growing even more into a community that’s already embraced us,” Beck said. “Nobody is leaving, there’s no changing of the guard. It’s still just the same awesome people, selling the same awesome comics, just in a new space.”