December 20 —- It seems that this will be the last holiday season for two prominent Canadian comic book retailers: Vancouver’s Comicshop and Edmonton’s Happy Harbor Comics..
The COMICSHOP, in it’s 44th year, winner of the 2014 Harry Kremer Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer Award has had papers served and is in receivership, and may close at any time according to an article published on the CBC on December 16th.
The following message was sent on December 7 from the owners:
Greetings, Comicshoppers, Brent here.
Well, the news we hoped we’d never have to report is now upon us. The Comicshop’s days are now officially numbered, though we’ve yet to learn what that exact number is. This probably won’t come as a HUGE surprise to those of you who have been waiting – patiently for the most part – for any new product to arrive in recent weeks, yet we were STILL hoping for that “11th hour reprieve” that has kept the ball rolling here in the past.
Needless to say, the time for picking up any items you may still have on hold here is quickly running out, and we’d also suggest that those with consignment items here pick those up at their earliest convenience.
The reasons for this unfortunate turn of events are both numerous and not entirely pleasant to talk about, but this is neither the time nor place for pointing fingers (okay, maybe just ONE finger, but we digress!). Instead, we’d simply like to take this opportunity to thank all of you loyal Comicshoppers out there who have stuck with us through thick and thin these last 44 (and a HALF!) years! We’re eternally grateful for your support and the chance to share the love of this medium we care so much about with you.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t take the time to recognize the numerous Comicshop staffers who have graced these hallowed halls since 1974. It’s an overused cliche perhaps to describe co-workers as “family”, but we still think it’s a pretty accurate description when it comes to our Comicshop family here – a bit quirky, a bit dysfunctional at times, but at the end of the day I think it’s safe to say that we ALL share a certain amount of pride that we’ve been able to be a part of such a fun and unique work environment. The fact that so many past employees still frequent the ‘Shop (however infrequently!) is a testament to the love we still hold for these old yellow & red walls.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without those who started it all in the first place – Ken Witcher and the late Ron Norton. Prior to their fortuitous “team-up” in the summer of ’74, the landscape for local aficionados of all things comics and sci-fi/fantasy could be described as “haphazard” at best – essentially used book stores and corner grocers. Their idea to gather ALL of their favourite hobbies under one roof (originally at 3638 West 4th Avenue) can be seen as truly visionary today, paving the way for future “brick & mortar” establishments, all sharing the same desire to impart their love of this special medium with others. We don’t consider it an offhand exaggeration to say that Ron and Ken were true pioneers of the comic book business, not just locally but across North America as well.
With this in mind, I think I can safely speak for both Keith and myself when I say how honoured we both are to have been a part of The Comicshop for well over three decades each. When Ron essentially “passed the torch” to us back in 1999, we continued to strive to do everything in our power to keep his legacy alive, regardless of personal reward or recognition. We simply did it for the benefit of our loyal customers and the love of The Comicshop itself and the ideals it stood for. We can’t possibly express to you just how sorry we are that it’s come to this.
But again, we STILL ain’t dead YET, so we hope to see you all at LEAST one more time before it’s too late.
Later this week we were saddened to learn that 2007 Harry Kremer Award Winning Edmonton shop HAPPY HARBOR COMICS and a primary sponsor and booster for these awards, will be shuttering and moving on by the end of January 2019 after almost 20 years in business.
Co-owener Jay Bardyla posted the following yesterday:
HAPPY HARBOR COMICS IS CLOSING
19 1/2 years ago it began but sadly, all things must come to an end.
For nearly 2 decades Shawna and I worked to try and provide the best in comics to the Edmonton fan community. Over time, and with the help of many talented and dedicated staff and volunteers, the mission successfully grew to reach out to new and lapsed readers in communities all across Alberta (and further!). We made sure to cover all the bases with mainstream (even that menace Spider-Man), indie, and super-importantly, locally made comics!
In the past several years we expanded our All-Ages section to an award-winning level (thanks to Archie getting married), nurtured a much needed PRIDE section, and built a library/school program to ensure the best materials (and Spider-Man) are on the shelves in hundreds of libraries all around the province.
We developed programs to support the creative community as well, from our Artist-in-Residence program to the Kid’s Camps to the Open Door collective and more. To us at The Harbor, the creation of comics was as important as the enjoyment derived from reading and collecting them.
HH also played a part in developing comics fandom by purchasing tables at the long-running Pop Culture Fair and giving those tables for free to local creators, starting in 2006. As well, both Shawna and I served on the Board of Directors for the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo during years 2 through 4, an amazing experience even with all the Spider-Man cosplayers.
Advocating for comics literacy was key as well. Beginning in late 2007, HH and local artist volunteers would visit schools and talk to students about how comics are made. This morphed in our Comic Book Fair program which visited 77 different schools and donated more than $10,000 worth of comics back to those libraries.
But all of this you know already.
So what does HH closing mean to you and your hobby?
There will be 2 more weeks of comics for file customers, tomorrow (including Amazing Spider-Man) and Wed, Dec 26.
This should everyone a fair amount of time to find a new provider for their hobby. While we know it won’t be the same, we ask that you don’t give up on your love for comics.
Our current team of Corinne (Been), Tania, Rudi, Kyle, Britt, Andrew, and Sylvia will all be wrapping up their duties and shifts as of Dec 31. Then HH will be around until Jan 31 with some revised hours as we clean stuff out.
We are planning a massive THANK YOU party on Saturday, Jan 26 so keep that date open on your calendar! There will be more details to come.
This news will shock most of you and for the suddenness of it all, we do apologize. Shawna and I have been discussing this for some time and we’ve both felt it was time for us to do something different. We have been spoiled and are extremely grateful to have met hundreds of amazing people over the years who share our passion for this wonderful medium. We couldn’t have asked for a better time of our lives.
It has been a long and often rewarding adventure but the world is full of adventures so, in the words of a famous little blonde-haired boy and his tiger,
“Let’s go exploring”