Atomic Comics: Survives South Street Annihilation

Story by: OBADIAH FULLER / Parkway West High School

Photo by: CARLOS ALICEA / Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson

Inside Atomic Comics, a comic book store on South Street.

The dry surroundings of wood boards criss- crossed on doors. Yellow caution tape and orange shut- down notices. When did this become the new South Street? All the stores that we are so used to seeing on South Street are gone or boarded up.

South Street is where most people go when they “wanna”  just walk around or just take some time to relax and spend money. Due to many different reasons, some our favorite shops and “eats” are closing down, causing a dry desert of very few stores. Where is Footlocker ? Gone. Where is Payless? Gone. What happened to Pearl Art Supplies? Gone. All that is left is an empty building. No more Dairy Queen or McDonalds? Gone!

But in this desert there is an oasis -Atomic City Comics.  Atomic City Comics has been up and running for over twenty years, and has been on South Street since 1998. The store has a very friendly environment with table, chairs and an overall warm, inviting feel when you walk in. The store is organized and has labels almost everywhere. Whether you’re going in to play some video games, buy some comics or just sit, drink some coffee and relax, the five staff members keep people coming back to the comic book store for comics, conversation and relaxing.

Joe Turner the store manager is not the caricature fat guy running a comic shop -not married, bald-headed and really lonely., Joe is the complete opposite. He isn’t skinny,  has long dreads down his back. He is engaged to marry the love of his life. He likes to rant and rave about what he likes and dislikes in the comic book world, which earned him the nickname “Ha-Tor.” He was very friendly and inviting during the interview and responded to questions truthfully.

What’s kept Atomic City from becoming a South Street used-to-be? Most stores on South Street consist of the same old thing, he said,. There are so many stores with “jewelry or jeans.” Atomic City is successful because they have regular customers who have been coming in for years and years. The only reason for them to stop is if they have to move. Other than that, their customer is basically a customer for life .

That’s what stores that don’t make it don’t have- they don’t have consistency. South Street is a tourist spot and people will always be visiting during the summer months,  but when winter hits, why should people travel out of their way to get a pair of jeans or pair of earrings?  However, people who are in love with comics will travel out of their way to get the newest thing or feed their comic addiction.

Another reason why the comic book store business might be so popular right now is because there are a lot of  movies recently depicting lots of characters who are in comics, including the likes of Spiderman, the Avengers, and Batman.


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