Recently I had the opportunity to visit Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia; the same Australian State that had the weirdest choice of song for a tourism campaign ever (come to South Australia! Be murdered!). I had been to Adelaide once before and was surprised how many comic book stores that this city of 1.2 million people had, so this second visit gave me the opportunity to chronicle just what is available and general impressions of each store. Please note that this is not every store, just the ones close to the CBD I had time to get to and, for the sake of full clarification, I visited them all on the same Monday (24th September).
Shop 6G Gays Arcade, Arcade, 111-117 Rundle Mall. adelaidecomicscentre.com
ACC had moved since my last visit to Adelaide and I must admit that I prefer the old store; it was much larger and had a greater range of merchandise. Still, I fully understand why the owner chose to move locales – from what I could gather he was paying $100,000 in rent per year while the new store is no more than half that. It also did not help that the previous store location was bought out and everyone in that arcade had their leases terminated. The owner was really nice to talk to and really appeared to know his stuff, I listened to him help someone looking for Italian/French comics while I browsed, while an elderly gentleman (obviously a regular) came in and seemed to be quite at home.
I bought some single issues while ACC had a sale shelf with some trades that I did not necessarily want but could not pass up for $10 (they’re usually $20+ in Aussie dollars).
1/15 Vaughan Pl. gammarayscomics.com.au
This is a pretty new store and is tucked away down a side street on the edge of the Adelaide CBD. The front window gave me great hope but the inside, to be honest, needs some work. The walking spaces need to be widened as if someone is browsing the centre display case then it is very difficult to get past them without doing a weird little shuffle dance. There are some comic shops you go into and it feels more like a classy book store (All Star Comics in Melbourne is a great example of this) and others that give off a vibe that whoever runs this store LOVES comics but has not quite worked out the business side of things just yet. Gamma Rays is in the second category from what I could see – all the single issues you could expect but the store itself needs made more professional and welcoming.
This was the first store I visited on this day and I ended up buying one TPB (Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps 6, IIRC) and it cost me $25.50.
18 Stephens Pl. greenlightcomics.com
This was the last store I found on this trip and it is not one I had previously known about, so it made a pleasant surprise. The inside is surprisingly sparse with a lot of empty floor space; while I’d normally call this a negative for a business type that tends to rely on moving a lot of product this made it feel open and welcoming more than other stores I visited. The range on offer was not the best but the store seemed to be going more for quality over quantity, while seeming to focus more on the smaller publishers than Marvel and DC.
According to the receipts, I bought two trades here – Transformers: The Wreckers Saga and Giant Days: Extra Credit.
Shop 11G Gays Arcade, 17-21 Twin Street. madzombie.com.au
Another store that had moved since my last trip (two years ago?) to Adelaide. It is not a comic book store as such, instead one that focuses on merchandise for various geek related pop culture franchises – Trek, Harry Potter, Marvel, etc. I recall their last store had an entire wall made out of those Pop Vinyl figures that I’ve never understood the point of. I wandered through the store, the girl behind the counter did not even look up the entire time I was there, and left without buying anything. The back corner had carpet that smelled like … well, I can not think of the best way to describe it. Mad Zombie Collectibles was literally across the arcade from Adelaide Comics Centre and like ACC, their old store was better.
Rundle Mall Plaza, 50 Rundle Mall, Adelaide. shintokyo.com.au
I did not bother with a photo of this store front as it did not really have one – it was open to the corridor/walk way it was in. Again, not really a comic book store but I do still like to check out any nerdy/geeky store I come across. In this case, as the name implies, Shin Tokyo focuses on anime and manga merchandise. There was not a great deal in this store that caught my attention and the way that scantily clad anime female characters were presented right by the door gave me the impression of what sort of store it would be. There were some Transformers figures from Japan stuck in a cabinet at the back of the store but they seemed to be somewhat overpriced for my tastes.
I managed to talk to some of the owners and discussed what the retail climate was like for the geek-centric stores. There were some consistent themes, most commonly that online stores such as Amazon were having a considerable negative impact on foot traffic. A couple of the owners demonstrated a distinct annoyance at previous regulars who used to come in every week but they now knew were simply pirating their books; one owner even gave me an example of some customers who came into the store so they could browse the racks so they could choose what to download. One owner pointed out that book chains such as Dymocks offering TPBs was hurting dedicated comic book stores – which I have to admit I did not help matters with, Dymocks was having a great sale and I bought some that very same day.
On the upside the owners stated that the Marvel movies had a lot of new customers, families mostly, wandering in and picking up related titles. But the biggest growth in customers came from female readers, especially those stores that made an effort to appear more welcoming and refined. One owner expressed surprise at how well some titles sold in TPBs but not so much in singles, which went hand in hand with how he described floppies sales were generally down but TPBs were an increasingly large part of his business.
All the stores I visited are, at the very least, worth checking out. If you ever happen to find yourself in Adelaide then please do what you can to support them.