Danger Room, a longtime comic book store in downtown Olympia, has been under new ownership for the past six years. But it may not feel that way because the two new owners used to work for the previous owners.
Co-owner Frank Hussey used to manage the store, while co-owner Casey Bruce used to work part time at the business. Both moved on to other jobs, but one day received an email from the previous owners, Patrick Mapp and Kendra Jennings, about their interest in owning the business.
They decided to go for it, noting the positives: location, landlord, there’s a toy store in the area (which means more children possibly interested in comics) and parking. The business is a little outside downtown’s core, which they feel provides more parking.
But the business also needed some work to improve sales.
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So they fixed and unblocked some windows, created a children’s section — comics for younger readers were previously scattered throughout the store — added a centerpiece display and some games.
A politically incorrect card game called Cards Against Humanity has been a top seller, Hussey said.
And all of those changes helped lift sales, particularly the addition of the children’s section.
“We want the family customer,” he said.
Some titles for children include “Roller Girl” by a Portland-based author, and “Usagi Yojimbo,” which is about a samurai in rabbit form. Frank said he thought “Usagi Yojimbo” might appeal to boys who haven’t quite taken to reading. “Roller Girl” might appeal to children and adults, he said.
“I’m not a 12-year-old girl, and I think this is a great book,” Hussey said.
Frank and Casey grew up reading the Sunday comics and superhero comic books, and then developed other interests. The release of a comic “Watchmen,” which later became a movie, reignited their interest in comic books. Casey also cited the influential “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud, a kind of textbook on the subject.
If a customer enters their store interested in comics, but unsure of where to begin, Casey will ask some questions about their interests to guide them in the right direction, he said.
For fans of the crime genre, there are titles such as “Fatale,” “The Fade Out” and “Kill or be Killed” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Under alternative comics, there’s the long-running series “Love and Rockets” by brothers Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez.
Frank said “Love and Rockets” has been published continuously since the 1980s.
Owners: Casey Bruce and Frank Hussey.
Location: 201 Fourth Ave. W. Olympia
Type of business: Comic book store.
Years in business: Danger Room dates to the early 1990s, but Casey and Frank have owned it for six years. The previous owners were Patrick Mapp and Kendra Jennings.
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 1-6 p.m. Sundays.
Online: dangerroomoly.com. You can also find them on Facebook.
Did you know? Every Wednesday is new comic day at the store. The business also is involved in Free Comic Book Day, which is the first Saturday in May, and the Olympia Comics Festival in June.