North Texas Daily

Comic, game shop houses freaks and geeks culture

Comic, game shop houses freaks and geeks culture

Comic, game shop houses freaks and geeks culture
January 22
00:02 2015

Samantha McDonald / Senior Staff Writer

Alec Featherstone has a tendency to fall in love.

With his fiancée, it’s what prompted him to move to Denton from Las Vegas, Nevada, and with video games, it’s what persuaded him to open a shop where nerds can interact.

Since Jan. 9, Featherstone’s startup company Freaks & Geeks has become the only shop in the city that buys, sells and trades its more than 36,000 comic books, 15,000 video games and 1,000 toys, the owners said.

Despite those numbers, Featherstone said all items in the shop represent only about 70 percent of his collection with co-owner Beth Baalman.

“We have the largest back-issue collection in DFW,” Featherstone said. “The other 30 percent will not fit.”

While the depth of stock defines their business model, the three-bedroom home that sits on Elm Street is a symbol of the owners’ commitment to creating a tight-knit community for the hobby’s aficionados.

“We’re really excited to make this a hub for people who love one thing to learn about another thing and realize they’re connected, and we’ve been doing that successfully for the last 11 days,” Featherstone said.

Preparing to launch

Four years ago, Freaks & Geeks was run primarily by Featherstone, who toured the metroplex to appear at conventions and trade shows. Now he and Baalman, who jumped in last year, are still recovering from the success of their grand opening weekend and a Super Smash Bros. tournament, which nearly 100 people attended.

“We have always looked at opening up a brick-and-mortar as an opportunity to make a community center, make it a YMCA for nerds and geeks,” Featherstone said.

Before settling in Denton, Featherstone and Baalman looked for spaces to lease from Sanger to Lewisville and Waxahachie. Their search turned up many locations, most of which they said were elaborate and expensive – characteristics that Baalman said didn’t suit the image they wanted to convey to customers.

“We came to this place, and it just felt like everything we were wanting to portray,” Baalman said. “We also really want it to be a second home to people, so it kind of physically works in the sense that it is a home that’s been converted.”

Integrative studies junior Ivan Rodriguez, who heard about the shop through a friend, decided to volunteer at Freaks & Geeks after a single visit. He said that when he heard about the upcoming grand opening, he couldn’t pass up lending a hand toward preparation.

“After that, I pretty much started coming every day and helping out as much as I could,” Rodriguez said.

Building a market

Among the qualities Featherstone said distinguish Freaks & Geeks from other businesses is the owners’ loyalty to their customers. Featherstone takes pride in delegating certain items not only for conventions, but also for people who have expressed an interest in collecting sets of comic books, video games or toys.

“We’ve built a big collector’s market, so we get a lot of people who we know,” he said. “Whenever we get something new with that character or in that franchise, we’d call them right away.”

The company is also looking to expand that market by inviting an artist every month to paint on one of the walls, bringing in local musicians to play concerts and participate in activities during music festival 35 Denton. Featherstone and Baalman also plan to set up live roleplaying and host horror movie nights every now and then.

“We always talk about having to sell things to keep the doors open, but the most important factor of our business is that we really want to focus on bringing people together,” Baalman said.

Entertaining the crowd

Any business hoping to make it in today’s competitive industries must understand the importance of the Internet to its virtual survival, Featherstone said. This is why one of his goals for the company is to start in-house podcast recordings, which he had previously done in Deep Ellum through a video-gaming talk show called Freaks & Geeks Live.

Featherstone and Baalman will also make their first out-of-state appearance at a convention in Oklahoma in March and continue to host a tournament every other week they can broadcast online.

For its devoted freaks and geeks, however, it is this last part – what the company does at its home base – that stands out from the typical crowd of comic book shops and video game stores.

“This place is fantastic, and what they want to do here is amazing,” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t found another store like this – where you can come in and see all these awesome things and hang out if you want.”

Featured Image: A seemingly endless row of comic books inside Freaks and Geeks comic book store. Photo by Hannah Ridings – Staff Photographer

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