When going to a comic store, you never really know what to expect. There are all sorts of wild ideas and images that flood our imagination based on the name of the shop and our previous experiences. Many comic shops satisfy the perception and build up of anticipation we have as shoppers once we arrive. They may have something we are looking for or some sort of pleasant surprise. I visited Emerald City Comics in Clearwater this weekend and they far exceeded my expectations.
The shop is located on an easily accessible road and has a small sign out front. The store is open from 11-8pm on Saturdays like the day we went. The exterior of the building looks like a giant warehouse. It doesn’t really stand out at all aside from the 6 foot Batman and Spider-man figures on the building facing the road. Once you enter the front door though, you’ve stepped from reality into pop culture and nerd wonderland.
The building looks even bigger inside than it does outside. Although the parking lot seemed full it didn’t feel crowded inside. Immediately, you can see there is a lot of merchandise in the space. Right up front is their Funko Pop section. There was a good variety in the two-sided row, but they didn’t have the specific recently released Pop I was looking for. A plus though is that they have all of their Funkos inventoried and could tell me right away they didn’t have the Judy Jetson I inquired about. They also had Funko supplies such as hard cases for $9.99.
The next few rows and large wall perpendicular to them were dedicated to packaged action figures. They had a good deal of Marvel and DC figures both old and new. They have a large selection of Marvel Legends as well as Marvel Universe. They had a large area including a couple of rows with all shapes and sizes of Star Wars figures that were nicely organized. They had a good selection of G.I Joe’s as well, which I haven’t seen as much of in stores recently. There were other movie and franchise figures as well, but not in as much excess. There was also a row of Mego and the newer Mego style, Retro figures. An example of these was the Retro line of Jonny Quest figures priced at $29.99 a piece. The last row of this corner of the building is a long glass case with mostly loose figures. In the case were a few complete Build A Figures as well as many out of package, vintage Star Wars figures.
The next section of the store contained statues and other larger and more expensive pieces on display. This is where everything from Batman Black and White statues, of which they had about 10, DC Bombshells and Eaglemoss type figures were displayed. On top of this display case was a large Sideshow Xenomorph head as well as the full-scale Silver Surfer statue from when Fantastic Four 2 came out. Nearby this section there was another area with more new release packaged figures. There is also a smaller dedicated section for hot wheels both new and old.
There is a single tall shelf with Hot Toys. These are all in the box, rather than being out on display though. While they are still accessible to view them you’ll have to take down a box and look at the figure through its window. There was enough of these to look through. The larger Sideshow pieces and other sixth scale figures are up high in their boxes as well. These can be viewed fairly easily but will require assistance for a better look or price check. These boxes are lined up above the long wall of new comics.
The new comics selection matches the scope of the rest of the store. Although it is impressive to have so many choices, it is a little intimidating. The wall is well organized. It is covered book to book from the floor up to about 5 and a half feet off the ground. It probably takes about 12 to 20 seconds to just walk from the beginning of the wall to the end. These new release books are not bagged and boarded. The next few very large aisles(think Sam’s Club or Costco) are all rows of back issues. These are organized alphabetically with all publishers sorted together. There are two levels of long boxes all the way down every row, with one being about chest level and the other down by your shins. The comic selection here is very good. I found the two newer books I was looking for, as well as over a dozen older back issues from the ’80s and ’90s including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 #24. The older books are in a different roped off area behind the vintage Star Wars display cases mentioned earlier. This setup was a bit intimidating, so I did not inquire about going in although I had an older book on my list.
Above the long boxes, there are shelves with Marvel and DC trade paperbacks. These are alphabetized and although there were quite a few, I did not find any of the three that I was looking for. Above these shelves is another shelf where the Marvel busts are kept. These are mostly older statues on display in their boxes, but lined up above the back issues gives your eye something extra to glance at. There is another large bookshelf aside from these rows with the independent trade paperbacks. There was a large variety to choose from and possibly more than the Marvel and DC trades.
There is a section in the back corner of the store with two double-sided aisles of tabletop games. This a pretty large game area for a store that provides so many other products. I saw a few games here that I had not seen in person before, though some of these can be pricey like Ghostbusters The Board Game at $85.
In the front corner, opposite from the games is a kids section. This is where things like Pokemon, Playskool Batman toys, Forces of Destiny figures and Legos can be found. A large selection of kids comics and trade paperbacks are available. Near this area, there are also working back to back Gauntlet and Marvel vs Capcom arcade cabinets. Although I didn’t play, I saw another adult customer enjoying them.
By the front checkout counter, there is a large stand with the comic book, gaming, and poster storage and supplies. There is also a poster section nearby as well. A long rack of in the package Select figures including Ghostbusters, Marvel and Star Trek helps to form the extended line queue. There is a large bin of in the package sale figures in this area for last-minute temptation. These are mostly just overstock and less popular characters. At the front counter, there are mystery minis, keychains, magnets, and many other knick-knacks. These are well organized, but there are so many it’s a little overwhelming. Lastly, the store sells drinks, water, chips, and candy, which may be crucial for some due to the amount of time spent there.
The only thing that stands out as a little unusual about the store is the checkout process for back issue comics. The cashier will use a comic price guide book and manually grade, look up and price each comic you are buying. This process definitely will take some time, so be prepared. This also can get a bit uncomfortable based on what the bill comes back as after the books have been looked up. Luckily, I did ask a cashier while there was no line if he could pre-price my books before I continued to shop. He seemed fine with this and it gave me a better idea of what my current total was as well as sped up my final checkout process.
Emerald City is one of the best comic shops I’ve ever been to. I’m basing this on them having not just a little bit of everything, but a good amount of most of it. It would be awesome if they could display all the statues and Hot Toys, but they would need an even larger space. The price checking on back issues is a little daunting, but as I demonstrated, can be managed. I don’t think anyone could go into the store and not be impressed. It is organized, well stocked, and has something for just about everyone. I give Emerald City almost 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend a trip here, but be prepared to find something you’ll spend money on.