At Comic Paradise Plus, Jon and Julie Hayes are continuing a Fairmont tradition started 28 years ago.
The former owner, Jim Wyer, had a heart attack over the Fourth of July weekend, and complications kept him in the hospital for an extended period of time.
While Jim was sick, Jon and Julie stepped in to operate Comic Paradise Plus, located at 401 Walnut Ave. Jim was able to return to the store for one week before he passed away in early October 2010.
Jim’s sister, who lives in Texas, asked Jon and Julie — from Morgantown — if they would take over and was instrumental in the transition. On Oct. 16, 2010, Jon and Julie officially became the new owners of the business. Julie’s mom, Mary Nicholson, also helps out.
Jon and Julie knew how much Comic Paradise Plus meant to the community and wanted to keep Jim’s legacy alive.
Jim loved the store, known for the Batman painted over the front door, and was very dedicated. Some customers had been getting comics from Jim since they were in the fourth or fifth grade, and were concerned about new people being in charge of the shop, Jon said.
“It definitely scared customers,” he said.
But the change in ownership was easy, and Comic Paradise Plus wasn’t even closed during that time. Those long-time customers have stuck with the business, and Jon and Julie are working to make sure everyone is happy with the service. Julie said they want Comic Paradise Plus to be the customers’ store.
Comic Paradise Plus carries comics and related materials and tabletop gaming items. Jon and Julie opened up the back of the store so they could host tabletop gaming on a regular basis, often on Saturdays. The store is also filled with statues and life-size props that Jon has collected, and even has back issues of comics that are older.
As a kid, Jon began looking at comic books even before he could read, creating stories of his own to fit the pictures. He started collecting whatever comics he could find when he was 8 or 10 years old. Then in college, he found Comic Paradise Plus, which was the first real comic book store he had ever visited, and began to stop by every month or two to see Jim.
Jon also runs Comic Boy, a mail-order and home-delivery comic business that used to be Gateway Comics, and he and Jim began combining their orders last year.
Since taking over Comic Paradise Plus, Jon and Julie have made some positive changes to the store.
“We placed our own mark on things,” Julie said.
Jon said Jim’s way of running the business was “complete old school” — he had everything in his head or on paper. In about a month and a half, Jon moved all of the store’s files and information over to a computer. He and Julie also installed security cameras and reorganized the store’s layout in order to departmentize their offerings.
Julie said they get compliments every week on how nice the shop looks. She and Jon are in the process of buying the building that houses Comic Paradise Plus, and are looking into ways of renovating the facility and other business opportunities. Jon said this three-story structure, which was probably built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, is solid and has a lot of potential.
While the majority of customers are local, people who have moved away from the area often return to the shop to visit. Individuals come to the store to connect with their hobby, Jon said.
“I love our customers,” Julie said.
On May 7, Comic Paradise Plus will participate in Free Comic Book Day, which is always the first Saturday in May. This popular event is an effort to bring in new comic book readers.
Comic Paradise Plus is currently open noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 304-366-2228, or visit www.comicparadiseplus.com or the store’s Facebook page.
Email Jessica Borders at email@example.com.