All the superheroes in Gotham City couldn’t prevent this East Village comic shop from shutting its doors for good on Sunday.
A steady stream of fans and bargain hunters visited St. Mark’s Comics to look through its rich inventory of books, action figures, toys and other items available at a discount. It’s been a popular destination for comic and science fiction fans for 36 years.
Owner Mitch Cutler said he was touched by the outpouring of support the store has received through social media and by people stopping in to speak with him and his staff.
“We’re hearing stories about how long people have been customers, how important we have been to them,” he said. “We have an amazing, dedicated staff.”
He said 90-hour work weeks and the pressures of keeping a retail storefront afloat in New York City led to his decision to close. Rising rent, online shopping and other obstacles are forcing more mom and pop stores to shutter in recent years.
“We’ve been here 36 years and this is our last day,” Cutler said. “It’s about celebrating the 36 years we had.”
Carta Monir, a cartoonist visiting from Michigan, picked up a selection of comics as well as the acclaimed graphic novel “Soldier’s Heart” by Carol Tyler.
“My friends had told me about the store,” she said. “There is a very friendly staff and it seems like an extremely homey space. I wish I could have seen it before the last day.”
Anthony DeLucia said he shopped at St. Mark’s when he was younger and rediscovered it in recent months. He purchased up several items including a copy of the Famous Monsters Convention program from 1974 and with an edition of the Marvel Comics “What if..” series from 1977.
“This is definitely very sad,” said DeLucia, 38, a creative director for an internet company who lives in Brooklyn.
Benjamin Strong of Brooklyn, who shares a love of comics with his daughter, stopped by to buy an X-Men comic and other titles for her.
“I like shopping at brick-and-mortar stores,” said Strong, 46. “It’s always a sad thing to see them close.”
It was an emotional day for the store’s employees like Liz Kinports, who has worked in the store since 2014.
“As I was putting on my makeup today I was thinking this is a lot of eye makeup and I know I’m going to cry,” Kinports, 26, said with a laugh. “We really are a family here.”
Cutler said he hasn’t figured out what he will do next but is looking forward to a long rest.
“I’m going to sleep for two weeks, that’s what I’m going to do,” Cutler said. “After I wake up, I’ll think about it.”