August 4 2008

22 Years On

Hard to believe it, but Splash Page Comics/AnimeUSA turns 22-years-old today.

Since I have gained so many followers over this past year, many of you may not even know about “my other life”.  Besides writing for Mashable, I have a “day job” working on the family business, AnimeUSA.  The store officially opened on August 4th, 1986 as a comic book store, but quickly started morphing over the years.

My mother had a costume shop in an old house on one of the major streets in Kirksville, and only 4 blocks from Truman University.  She didn’t have any use for the old garage, so at the age of 14, I asked if I could convert it into a comic book store.  After some convincing, the parents gave in and Splash Page Comics was born.  (For those who don’t know, a “splash page” is any page of a comic book that consists of only 1 panel taking up the entire page)

In 1993, mom was tiring of the costume business having been involved in it since she was 18, and I was quickly outgrowing the garage.  She opted to close the costume shop and give the bigger portion of the building over to the comic store.  We quickly outgrew that space and expanded into even more of the building.

1999 saw us doing so much business in anime products from Japan, we opened a sub-division named AnimeUSA.  We were traveling to more and more conventions around the country, and showing up at an anime show calling ourselves “Splash Page Comics” just didn’t make much sense.

By 2000, I was getting more involved with ecommerce, and our convention business was picking up so much that I was contemplating closing the retail store as it was holding its own, but was becoming a very small portion of our gross take, but the majority of our headaches.  I talked it over with a good friend of mine while we were flying to Japan together on a buying trip in August 2000, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

We were again on our way to Japan in August 2001, and he was with me again.  Again the subject came up (hey, it’s a 10 and 1/2 hour flight from Los Angeles), and after much hemming and hawing, I called my parents from Tokyo and told them to get ready to do it by the end of the year.

I returned from Tokyo just a little over a week before the events of 9/11, and that extended the time frame as we had other issues to deal with in regards to my dad’s job, and it just not being a priority on our minds.  I finally closed the retail store in December of 2001 after 15 years and 21 weeks of it being open.

We finally sold the building that in late 2002 when the gas station next door offered to buy it to expand their parking lot.  They offered us enough we could build a 3,000 square foot warehouse (the old building was 1,800 square feet and very broken up as it had been a house) on property we already owned, and we moved out in March 2003.

The warehouse is doing a beautiful job of keeping us contained, and it is so nice not going, “Which room is product x in?”  The old building was demolished in 2003, but I still smile every time I drive by it as I spent so much of my life there, but now I actually like the building we’re in as the old one was impossible to heat.

There are a million little facts about the history of the business I’ve left out as you would with any 22 year history, but this is a good general over view of the history.  Still, it’s impossible I’ve been doing this for well over two decades now.  Yikes!

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