For local comic fans, the large concentration of comic book stores in Falls Church offers a wide array of options. With three stores within a mile radius of one another, Hole in the Wall Books, Anime Pavilion and Victory Comics play off each other’s strengths to supply customers with what they want. Each store has its own specialty and caters to a different audience.
Hole in the Wall Books, the oldest of the stores, has been operating in Falls Church as a used bookstore for 32 years. Originally, it sold books and records, but now the store is half bookstore and half comic store.
“It surprises me that there are three stores within a one or one and a half mile radius, but I can say that we have not been suffering. It helps that each store has it’s own niche. Nothing has really changed for us; we still have the same loyal customer base,” said Tim Eccles, an employee at Hole in the Wall Books.
Eccles described Hole in the Wall as “a comic boutique shop,” because it caters to its regular customers and what they want. For this reason, he could not name a most popular comic book. The store subscribes to a series at the request of customers.
Among people who just drop in, the classics are always popular, like Batman, Spiderman and X-Men, as is Walking Dead because of the television show show.
One of the last used bookstores in the area, the store survives in part because it provides a combination of services. As far as comics go, the store focuses on graphic novels and comic books and offers only a collection of used Manga, the Japanese comics.
“I like to really support graphic novels. It’s more accessible for new comic readers. You can see even from how they’re displayed. You must sort through the box for comic books. Graphic novels have more of a book mentality and can be displayed as such,” Eccles said.
“There’s a comic book for everybody. They aren’t just for kids,” said Eccles, who did not start reading comics until he began working at Hole in the Wall seven years ago.
Anime Pavilion, as the name suggest, focuses on Anime, which involves all forms of Japanese animation, from DVDs to Manga. The store also sells trading cards, posters, and other collectables. It has been in Falls Church for about seven years.
“I was wondering [why there are so many comic book stores in the area] myself,” said Chad Brito, manager and convention staff at Anime Pavilion. “I’m from Wisconsin, so all this is so completely new to me. The fact that there’s such a strong following and a whole community here is just overwhelming and awesome, you know? I’m from a little hole in the wall place in Wisconsin where they don’t even have a comic book shop. You can’t get anime anywhere except like two hours away.”
According to Brito, the stores collaborate to make sure customers can find what they want.
“We get people from the other stores. They’ll come by if they can’t find something. They’ll come over here and ask. And if we don’t have something we’ll send them to the other stores, so they know they can get what they’re looking for in this area, and everything is in walking distance,” said Brito.
Anime Pavilion has regular customers as well.
“It’s a whole little culture,” Brito said.
Anime Pavilion also frequents conventions and sells products there.
“There’s a way larger selection, and it’s cheaper than other bookstores, like Borders,” said Michelle Martens, an employee. “Even though it’s small, once people find it, they always come back.”
The area’s most recent arrival, Victory Comics, opened in February 2010.
“I live in town and wanted to start a comic book store. It seemed like the right place for the kind of business I wanted,” said Jeff Weaver, owner of Victory Comics, about why he chose Falls Church.
He calls his store the “anti-cave” store, unlike the stereotypical dark comic store. Victory Comics is bright and open, and all the shelves were made with a light wood.
Victory Comics is a full-service comic store. It sells books, action figures, and trading cards. It also offers the largest in-store gaming facility in Northern Virginia inside the beltway.
The store boasts a collection of old comics, with books dating back as far as 1930.
“I think older books are fun,” said Weaver. “Anything pre-1980.”
Weaver also frequents conventions, where he finds many of his old and rare comics, but does not sell products from Victory Comics at the conventions.
Hole in the Wall Books is located at 905 W. Broad St., Falls Church. It is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. It can be contacted at 703-536-2511.
More information about Anime Pavilion can be found on its website, animepavilion.com or by calling 703-534-1544. It is located at 115 Hillwood Ave., Suite 10, Falls Church. It is open from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m on Fridays.
Victory Comics is found at 586 S. Washington St., Falls Church. For more information, visit victorycomics.com or call 703-241-9393. It is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, and from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturday.