Locals rally for struggling comic book shop

June 17, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Locals rally for struggling comic book shop
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Like many Bay Ridge businesses, Galaxy Comics is suffering financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abdulilah Esa, owner of the shop at 6823 Fifth Ave., discussed the hardships the pandemic has brought upon the store.

“My friends and customers were calling me when we were in quarantine and they were asking how the store was doing,” he said. “I told them there’s no income whatsoever. I owe four months of rent. We may not be able to make it because we are not making any money.”

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Esa, who moved to Bay Ridge in the 1980s, now lives in Sunset Park. He frequented the store as a kid when it was called Mutant Mania.

After June 7, the store opened up for curbside pickup, but it continues to struggle.

“Last week, we were making $30 a day, the most $300, and there was no way I was able to make rent,” said Esa said. “I did call my accountant and he said he was going to apply for loans for us. And when he applied, and by the time I called him, he said that money had all run out and a lot of people didn’t get their application process.”

When curbside pickup didn’t improve business, Hoi Chen, Esa’s friend and customer, set up a gofundme page to help.

“The store is a mom and pop comic book shop in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and the only true surviving one,” he wrote. “I [would] hate to see it go.”

Choi has shopped at the store since it opened in the early 2000s under the Galaxy Comics name. “I have worked there a few times to help out,” he said. I would be grateful for all the help it can get. Any amount is greatly appreciated.”

Esa, who has owned the store for 20 years, explained what it has meant to the community.

“The store has been here for a long time and kids would come down, read books, sometimes people come in and stay for hours,” he said. “A lot of people see it as an escape, especially in the summer if they don’t have a place to go.”

The store has also been hurt by the closing of the Alpine Theater, its next-door neighbor.

“People would come because of the movie theater,” he said. “We used to get a lot of customers because of that.”

The comic book industry’s struggle has also hurt Esa.

“The comic industry was on shutdown also so there were no new print releases,” he said. “It would only be digital. Now they’re releasing new issues in three weeks.”

Esa, who said he’s been touched by the $5,000-plus donations the fundraiser page has received, hopes it will help the shop survive long term.

“I’ve heard from customers that they used to come here when they were young and they had difficulty reading, but because of the comics they read in the store, it helped them become a better reader, he said. “Hopefully, we will stay here to help the community. We usually do donations to handicapped kids every year.”

When asked if he wanted to say anything to his loyal customers who have been donating, Esa said, “I hope to thank them one by one when we reopen the store.”

To donate, visit https://bit.ly/3hvBTGB

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