I have written twice before of the days in which a comics collector would have to go to several stores in order to get their favored books. I have thus far written about four such places, some better than others. But THIS time, I will be writing about the very BEST convenience stores in which I found my books!!
The first that I will write about is "The ICEE store!!" This store, actually called the "Mini-Mart" was located in the next town (fortunately it was only about twenty or so miles from my house at the time). ICEEs were a mixture of Coca-Cola and ice mixed together into a thick liquid. Even the cup was cool! It had a polar bear, ICEE in hand and with blue and red vertical lines. I loved the ICEE and got one every time I went there. They also had a fantastic selection of candy (we kids did not go to these stores ONLY for the comic books! There were "fringe benefits as well)! They had Lik-M-Aids (otherwise known as Fun Dips), candy bars, lemon drops, Sweet Tarts, Life Savers and much more! There was nothing quite like the feeling of sitting in the back of the car, drinking an ICEE and reading one of the comic books stacked next to you! The Mini-Mart had their comics on a spinner rack but their books were always in great shape.
For instance , I remember buying a pristine mint copy of Daredevil #187 there once (for those of you whom are not familiar with the cover, it is an almost 100 % white cover with Daredevil in the dead center of the cover. I found the BEST copy that they had but ALL copies were very white and in very good condition). This was during the EARLY 1980's. This store was also the place in 1986, where my friend Mike (and our buddy Mark) went for gas one Friday night and ended up almost getting killed (Mike played an inadvertent game of "chicken" with a SEMI TRUCK)!!!
The Mini-Mart is no more in this day and age. It went out of business about five years ago. They had long since stopped carrying both comic books and ICEEs. There is another convenience store there now but I have never been there. It would not be the same! And finally, the store that I went to most often was called (by me): "The Bookstore By The Sale Barn". There were other ways to get there, but the way we went most often involved going past Johnny' Barber Shop (where I used to get my hair cut) then we would go past the Sale Barn. The Sale Barn was a large area filled with cattle in stalls with hay covering every square inch of the dirt floor (say what you will, the place had atmosphere).
Once you were past the Sale Barn and could breathe again, one more turn down a small hill and you could then turn into the Spee-D-Mart convenience store! The Spee-D-Mart had it all! A well oiled comic book rack, filled with Bronze Age Greatness! They carried DC and Marvel of course but they also had Archie Comics and Harvey Comics on the rack as well. I bought so many different Archie Comic Books (Archie At Riverdale High, Betty & Veronica, Jughead's Jokes, Sabrina, Josie The Pussycats, Pep and various other titles), Harvey Comics were well represented also. I bought all of the various Richie Rich comics plus comics starring Casper the Friendly Ghost, Wendy The Good Witch, Little Dot, Little Lotta, Stumbo the Giant and Hot Stuff The Little Devil! I loved them all!! They also had the cartoon based comics from Marvel Comics. I bought Yogi Bear, Dynomutt and Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics! I bought the only issue that I ever bought new of Welcome Back Kotter there (it was #9 -- "I'll Be A Kotter's Uncle").
I went out trick or treating with my cousins in 1978. I am sure that I had fun but all I remember of the night is when we stopped at the Spee-D-Mart for soft drinks and I found and bought Super Friends #16 "The People Who Stole The Sky" (I LOVED the Super Friends and still remember pestering the poor salesgirl because issue #21 was TWO weeks late). I still remember some of the awesome book that I got there -- Justice League Of America #163 "Concert Of The Damned" (it was the first time that I had ever seen the word "Damned" in a comic book), even a Dennis The Menace Digest book! I also loaded up on candy (they had candy cigarettes there where none of the other stores had them).
It was an awesome store! Sadly, they are no more. Oh, the building is still there. But, the Spee-D-Mart itself is long gone. Ah, those were the days! I hope that my readers have enjoyed these past few columns. I am sure that you all have stories of shops just like mine! Next week in part 4, I will be giving tribute to the glory days of the Rock Bottom Bookstore!!