By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Jonathan Smith said he was something of a nerd when he was a kid. He loved Calvin and Hobbes and Mad Magazine.
When Smith’s wife died three years ago this coming February, he needed something that he and his son, Cameron, could do together. Before then Smith traveled a lot selling and racing quarter-scale race cars.
Reading comic books was just the thing. Together they’d travel to different shops in southern Michigan and Toledo, checking out what was available.
That bonding experience blossomed into a store selling comic books and named after Cameron, 16, which opened in Adrian, Michigan, last year. The success of the Cameron’s Comics & Stuff took Smith, 42, by surprise. At first, he worked days at a factory and ran the store at night. But he found he could quit his factory job and devote himself to the store.
Now Smith has opened a second Cameron’s Comics at 175 N. Main St. in Bowling Green.
The shop officially opened Friday with a ribbon cutting. Over the weekend, Smith said, customers flocked to the store. Many were pleased to have a store devoted to comics and related literature, toys, and games back on Main Street.
Though the store is open, it’s still a work in progress. More merchandise is coming in to fill the shelves that Smith built himself. He also plans to put a game room in the back.
The main wall has the comics on white shelving. “They’re presented on white because they’re art,” he said.
While he carries Marvel and DC, his stock goes deeper than that, extending to publishers including Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Image Comics, Silver Sprocket, and Alterna.
The shop also has games including the Magic: The Gathering and Catan as well as action figures and other toys.
“We have our own flavor,” he said.
Smith said he’s taking a slower approach to stocking the BG store. In Adrian he dove right in with games, but found there wasn’t much interest. He’s finding games have more traction in Bowling Green.
He also has a studio for recording podcasts set up so he can record his own podcast “Two Beers and a Pull List.” The studio’s available for rent.
Smith said he decided to expand to Bowling Green because the area lacks a comic book shop, and with a college age population, he felt that left a hole in the market he could fill. “With all the nerd culture coming to the forefront, it’s kind of cool to be a nerd.”
Opening weekend seems to have met his expectations. With a lot of college age shoppers in as well as older buyers. “In Adrian, college students don’t spend money,” he said. “Down here it looks like they do.”
On Monday morning, Anna Watson came in with Andrew Haver to pick up “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Vol. 2” He had seen it when he was in over the weekend, and told her it was here because she’d been looking for it.
Haver was in high school when R & B Newsstand and Games was the local hub for comics fans and gamers. During that period Ground Zero Comics was in business across the street.
Both he and Watson were pleased to see Cameron’s open up. She said she was excited but there weren’t a lot of other options.
The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., though on Wednesdays when new comics are released, the shop opens at 10 a.m. On Sundays, hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“I’m really excited to be part of the community down here,” Smith said.
In a recent podcast recorded in the store’s studio, he extolled the virtues of being able to get cookies and beer delivered, and having a Kroger with a bar.
He said he was pleased with the all the people who showed up for the ribbon cutting sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. “I like everyone I’ve met,” he said. “I can’t wait to jump in.”