Gutter Pop Comics first opened up on Elmwood Avenue in 2016. Then, for a short stint they expanded, by moving a few doors down to 986 Elmwood (seen here). It didn’t take long before that space fell through, but as luck would have it, they managed to land on their feet, by signing on to 1421 Hertel Avenue.
Not only did they land on their feet, they ended up supersizing to a 2000 square foot storefront, which is a heck of a lot bigger than their original 800 square foot space.
If you’re not familiar with Gutter Pop, then I suggest you read David Theriault’s take on the shop in Nerd Scene. Since he wrote that piece, a lot more has been happening in the world of comic books, according to store owner Stephen Floyd. Floyd attributes the growth of his own shop on multiple happenstances that ended up causing a perfect storm.
“The shop has comically grown exponentially,” said Floyd. “I was able to fill up the new store using additional inventory from my attic and from the backroom. There was a big shift, to focus on mail order and pick-up orders – we had to pivot because demand was so high. Readers are taking the time to organize their collections, and we’ve been buying collections. Overall, there are a bunch of factors that contribute to the demand, but mainly people are stuck inside reading. It’s been a windfall for sales. Also, printers are bottlenecked due to reduced staff, while the demand is high – some are temporarily not printing. At the same, people are investing in comics. With a robust inventory, featuring comics of different ranges and different voices – representational of comic scenes and creators around the world – we’re gaining a national reputation.”
Floyd is excited about the direction of the store. He’s also hot on Hertel. He told me that a mix of stores like a Moms Skate Shop, restaurants (including The Merry Shelley), the North Park Theatre, “and being next door to Revolution Gallery” has created a great street synergy. “This strip is really popping,” he said. “Once covid is over, there’s going to be a lot of foot traffic – it’s going to be rocking.”
Speaking of rocking, Floyd also plays in bands, and is a publisher. Before he opened up the store, he was putting out some occasional vinyl along with his bud JP Coovert for One Percent Press. “I was publishing, and distributing other small press comics, while attending tours and conventions. My apartment started to look like a store. I knew that I had to do something when I looked at my fridge as a possible storage unit. I knew I had to get my shit together. I still carry a limited amount of underground (promotional) records, from back when the bands were playing basements in Buffalo.”
Even though Floyd’s business is booming, he’s very excited to see the pandemic end. After all, he’s got 2000 square feet of space to play with, which equates to plenty of comic book signings and events. He’s looking forward to teaming up with nearby businesses too, such as North Park Theatre, where he hopes to host some screenings of comic book related movies. And who knows… maybe some bands might pop-up at the new space as well. It all sounds pretty cool, if you ask me.
“Covid has given us time to plan,” said Floyd, who is amped up for his next chapter in the life of Gutter Pop. Who knows – maybe this evolving story might one day make it onto the pages of one of Floyd’s own comics, accompanied by a punk band of course, and a skate crew, a goth couple, some surreal macabre artists, a bunch of cinephiles… all of the walks of life that call Hertel ‘home’ these days.
Gutter Pop Comics is currently open for browsing at 1421 Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo.
Action, middle grade and young adult, graphic novels, kids, comics history, manga, super hero, small press…
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Lead image courtesy Gutter Pop