Olympic Cards and Comics, which has been run by Gabrielle Trautmann for 20 years, is set to embark on its next stage of growth by adding a mezzanine – an intermediary floor – through the center of her 7,000-square-foot building.
The first half of the mezzanine will be completed next year, followed by the remaining half in 2015. In 2016, the expansion will continue by extending the building by another 3,000 to 4,000 square feet. All told, the building will double in size to 14,000 square feet.
And why not?
Olympic Cards and Comics had a “fantastic Christmas,” said Gabi Trautmann, 38, who said the business hit its sales goal earlier than expected.
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Business was so brisk that she didn’t have time to put new inventory on the shelves, so she simply set new products on a table for customers to look through.
“I’m lucky to have a community of customers who believe in shopping locally,” she said, adding that the business returned the favor to six families over the holidays by providing them with toys and other gift donations.
The mezzanine will feature a cafe, plus have more room for couches and tables, welcoming customers to sit down and play games or read through a comic before deciding whether to buy it.
That’s what the business has been known for over the years.
Customer Callaghan Fishburn, 19, of Lacey, said he appreciates the no-pressure environment, which allows him to sit and read a comic, perhaps Moon Knight or The Walking Dead.
“You can spend hours here,” he said.
Many of the employees are former customers. Employees also have a say in future hires, and those who leave the business on good terms always are welcome back, Trautmann said.
Chris Johnson, 24, has worked at the store almost a year. As a customer he shopped there weekly, followed by every other day, then found himself helping other customers when they had questions about the store. He eventually learned of an opening and got the job.
Sam Lacina, 25, has worked there for six years, saying Olympic Cards and Comics feels like a second family.
“It’s less like working for the boss, but that you’re helping the family,” he said.
OLYMPIC CARDS AND COMICS
Owners: Gabrielle Trautmann, Eric Trautmann.
Location: 4230 Pacific Ave., Lacey.
Years in business: 20.
Type of business: Retailer of comics, board games, action figures and other similar items.
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays; 10 a.m.-midnight Tuesday through Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays.
Online: Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics on Facebook.
Advice to business owners: “Work harder, care more, treat your employees well,” Gabrielle Trautmann said.
Did you know? Gabrielle Trautmann – everyone knows her as just “Gabi” – went to work at Olympic Cards and Comics when she was 15, then she bought the business when she turned 18. Over the years, it grew and changed locations, and today it is in a building she built on Pacific Avenue. Eric Trautmann, husband and co-owner who jokingly said that all he does is come in and move boxes around, is a freelance comic book writer and author, as well as a graphic designer.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403