I wrote about a couple of stores last week, and this week I wax nostalgic about a few more! The "Mini-Mart" store was the "Store by the Railroad." It was (and IS, since it still exists all of these years later, even if the comic book spinner rack is a thing of the past) a good, well managed shop. I used to go there because they were the ONLY place in town that stocked Charlton Comics. I used to get "The Fighting Five" and "Yang" (my favorite from Charlton) there every month! And , if I happened to run across a new issue or several of books that I could get elsewhere -- I went ahead and bought them anyway. After all, they were right there. Why not grab them as well? Sometimes, the train would come by on the track. That was always fun to see. I actually rode the train years later and we ended up on the news thanks to a bomb scare! There was no actual bomb, however! Someone had just called in a threat!
Another great place in which to find books that were available nowhere else was at our local K-Mart store. Almost directly in the center of the store, on an end cap, was a display of Whitman Three Packs! Whitman Three Packs were three comic books, all tightly sealed in a plastic bag; usually priced for a dollar! This was where I would get the fun Disney and Warner Brothers Comics that I loved. Sometimes, they would have some superhero books in the three pack bags as well (this is how I found my copy of Batman # 302). The distributors would put two good comics in the front and back of the bag and seal the bag tight, so you could not see what the middle book was. We kids KNEW that the middle book must be the "clunker" that they could not get rid of any other way (this "rule" did not always ring true, I used to get some good middle books in some of those old three packs)! I got very adapt at CAREFULLY prying the two books close enough apart that I could see what the middle book actually was. Sometimes, you would get lucky and you would want all three books in the three pack! Sometimes, the middle book would be okay and you were willing to get it as well .
But if it WERE a "clunker" then you had a choice to make. "Do I want the other two bad enough to get stuck with the middle book?" Could I find another three pack that has the books that I want in THIS three pack and with a better middle book?" Sometimes the answer would be yes, and sometimes it would be no. Sometimes you would only find ONE of the two books in another three pack. Sometimes you just took the three pack; "clunker" and all!
I'll never forget the smell of the books when I opened the bag. To me, that smell was like Strawberry Pez tastes (I hope my readers get the comparison)! That smell takes me back to my childhood and elicits many happy memories! I still recall opening those three pack bags and pouring over the contents within! I still have shelves FULL of Whitman/Gold Key comics today!
I hope that my readers have enjoyed my look back. Next week I will write about two of the BEST stores, and then after that -- a special tribute !!