The Coliseum of Comics celebrates 30 years in Central Florida
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 08:02
Comics and trading cards and board games, oh my! The Coliseum of Comics has it all. This chain of stores is located in five locations: Kissimmee, Seminole Towne Center, Fashion Square Mall, Lakeland and its flagship store near the Mall at Millenia. The flagship store was opened on Feb. 1, 1983, and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.
Though the shops are part of a chain, the owners and brothers, Phil and Brendan Boyle, strive to create an around-the-corner neighborhood atmosphere in each of their store locations. The brothers became interested in comic books around junior high when Brendan Boyle’s friend gave him some comics to read and their mother brought home some old comic books that a co-worker had given her.
The brothers began buying more comic books and ordering them through the mail.
“Phil didn’t get a car,” Brendan said. “He instead was putting his money into comic books. He would ride the bus to work instead of doing things other teenagers were doing.”
The brothers worked at a local restaurant their father managed and would then take the money they made and buy comics at local stores such as Magic Markets and the Ellis’ Drug Store. When their collection grew to a sizable amount, the Boyles began selling their comics out of their garage until a friend told them about renting space for $300 a month.
“We didn’t know any better,” Phil said. “I thought, ‘Of course I can make $300 a month selling comics.’”
Phil, a UCF alumnus, ran the first store, but Brendan helped by supplying some of the merchandise from his own collection.
Even upon realizing there were more expenses than just the rent, Phil decided to keep the business going.
“I was too stupid to quit I guess, so we kept going," he said.
After the flagship store in Millenia opened, the Kissimmee location was opened in 1989, followed by the Fashion Square store in 2000. Next was the Lakeland location in 2006, and then, finally, the Seminole Towne Center location opened in 2009.
It’s quite an accomplishment to have a successful comic book store in a time when most record stores, video stores and other collectibles shops have gone out of business due to the convenience of the Internet.
“Comic books are a collectible medium,” Brendan said. “People aren’t looking to collect DVDs as much as see the movie. Even though people can read comics online and every comic isn’t going to become valuable, every comic is collectible. You can’t collect pixels.”
Another reason that comics are doing well is that comic books have become more mainstream. “Geek is chic,” Phil said. “People are no longer embarrassed to have a comic book in their backpack or admit that they know Bruce Wayne is Batman.”
In addition to the boom in the comic industry, the Coliseum of Comics remains successful because of its family atmosphere. Millenia store manager Juan Murcia has been with the company for eight years.
“We’re a family; that’s the way I view it," Murcia said. “We laugh, poke fun at each other and fight but at the end of the day, we’re one big happy family.”
Murcia said there are customers who have been with the store all 30 years as well as new customers who have recently discovered the store.
“We try to get to know each person and establish a relationship with them,” Murcia said. “We see them as our extended family."
Beginning on Friday, Feb. 1, the stores had a sale where customers were able to get 30 percent off all items in the store, excluding new releases. This sale continued through the weekend to thank the customers for 30 years of loyal business. Throughout the month, the celebration continues with weekly sales on select items. The stores also have Free Comic Wednesdays — anyone who walks into the store receives a free comic book.
The Boyles want to make sure comic books survive this digital age or, as Brendan said, “rule the world one comic at a time.”