The owners of Danger Room Comics have worked hard to turn their business into a success.
Last week one woman walked into the downtown Olympia store and started the day by buying $90 worth of comics.
Today the store at 201 W. Fourth Ave. attracts male and female customers of all ages, but that wasn't the case when Patrick Mapp and his wife, Kendra Jennings, bought the business in 1994.
Mapp, who was an employee at the store before he and his wife became owners, said it had the feel of a "boy's club," both a little dark and smelly.
At his wife's urging, posters were pulled off the walls and windows to broaden the appeal of the store and let in some light.
"We worked two years before we could catch our breath," Mapp said.
The couple couldn't afford to pay themselves at first and concentrated on paying off the business and bills, but it began to turn a corner in 1999 and 2000, he said.
The couple decided against getting a bank loan or a line of credit, Mapp said.
"This way we don't owe anyone anything," he said.
The shop pays for itself and its five employees today, with a little money left over each month for Mapp. Jennings also has a full-time job as a state worker, he said.
"I'm doing this because it's a labor of love more than anything else," Mapp said.
Mapp has been a lifelong fan of comic books, but that interest grew as more literary comics were published, such as Art Spiegelman's "Maus" and "Love and Rockets" by Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez.
The comics are organized by genre, with graphic novels and collections of comic books accounting for three-quarters of the store's sales, he said.
The store also organizes the annual Olympia Comics Festival and participates in a "Free Comic Day," a national event that occurs on the first Saturday in May, Mapp said.
Danger Room's customers appreciate the store's selection of comics.
State worker Jay Raishhas been a customer for about a month, she said. Once she learned the store carried the "Umbrella Academy," a gothic science fiction comic, Raish was hooked.
"They have my loyalty now," she said.
Will Eikleberry of Olympia, a fan of crime horror comics, said Danger Room is one of the best comic book stores in the Northwest.
"If I can't find something here, I'm not paying attention," he said.
Rolf Boone covers business at The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5403 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.