UPDATE: Unfortunately this store has closed.
When moving to the Corning, New York area I thought the closest comic book stores were in Elmira and Ithaca, but I seem to have been mistaken; there is one in Painted Post off of Route I-86 at exit 43. There stands a big brick building that they tell me use to be the Ames department store, but that has been long gone since the late 90’s early 2000’s. It’s now called the “Victory Highway Galleria of Shops”. Tucked in this Galleria of shops is a small and when I say small I mean a small shop that is a gem of a comic store called We Have Issues Comics. I am always dubious of comic stores in this kind of environment, they are usually run by an old comic book store owner who is trying to get out of the business and only has the back issues he couldn’t sell in his original store but I was pleasantly surprised with the We Have Issues shop.
When I walked into the shop Pat McChesney, the owner came up and welcomed me to his store and politely asked if I was buying or if I just was looking. I, unfortunately, had to tell him that I was only looking today, and he was fine about that and let me know it wasn’t a problem. While flipping through the books, I broke the conversational ice with my usual question for all the comic book shop owners when I first meet them “how is business going?”. He was frank and honest and told me business was good. We got to talking about comics and he knows his stuff, not just the current iteration of comics today but about the older comics of yesteryear.
One of the things on my mental checklist that I look for when I go to new stores is the owner. He is the face of the store and he makes the store a good one just as much as the inventory he has for sale. If the owner is passionate about his product and wants to succeed the store will succeed if he isn’t then the store will fail. The more the owner puts himself into the shop the more people will want to come back. Mr. McChesney is doing just that, putting himself and his passion for comic books into this store. He is one of the reasons I will go back.
The second thing on my list that makes me like or not like a store is appearance and layout of the store. When I walked into We Have Issues I was happy to find a clean and well-kept space. There was no boxes or clutter around on the floor, or a lot of non-comics merchandise for sale either. The store is well lighted and not dingy, and it’s a comic store a parent wouldn’t have any problem letting their kids go to get comics and to look around. To me We Have Issues is the perfect example of the minimalist comic book store; due to the space constraints, it doesn’t have the mainstay selection of long boxes of back issues on display which is a refreshing thing for me, because I end up spending my whole time digging through them looking for a new find for my collection instead of checking out the store and talking with the owner or employees if they have time.
Third on my list is how diversified is his inventory? I was impressed with We Have Issues, it has most of the big names in comics on the shelf and some nice old ones as well. I didn’t see any of the weird comics I usually get, but he said he will order what I wanted. Saying that he does have pull lists for his customers. On an aside if you are so inclined to start a pull list at any comic store, not just We Have Issue please go pick them up on a regular basis, that’s money out of the store owners pocket when they just sit there.
A few things that I have an issue with is that a lot of his “current” back issues were already bagged and boarded, I like to be able to check out the art and to read the first page or so to really see if I want to buy the comic, especially comic characters that I have never read before. I am also a fan of a place to sit and check out my purchases and be able to talk with the other customers or employees catching up on the comic book world dirt which We Have Issues doesn’t have, but I understand with such a little space. Neither of these is a deal-breaker that would keep me from going back.
After 20 minutes hanging out and checking out the store and the owner I think We Have Issues has great possibility of maturing, growing and becoming my go to store while I am living in this area since it’s got a great owner, it’s clean and it’s right down the street from the house and work as long as I can get the “special” comic series that I like I am there. Remember new comic’s come in on Wednesday. Hope to see you all at We Have Issues.