It was around 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, when I got the news.
I had just got home from work and was doing my usual home-from-work routine. I poured a Coke, grabbed the laptop, sat down on the couch and started to get caught up on what was going on in the world.
The first stop was email. There were about a dozen messages, one from The Wife. I opened it first, because, you know. It included a news brief that had been forwarded to her by a concerned co-worker. It read:
“Star Clipper is closing.”
Huh. Unexpected. I then looked at the rest of my emails and found one from Star Clipper, informing me that they were closing. After finishing my emails I then surfed the handful of comic book news sites I frequent and one of them carried the announcement that “Star Clipper in St. Louis is closing.” I then logged on to Facebook where a half-dozen of my friends had duly linked me to articles announcing that Star Clipper was closing. By the following week the local alternative newspaper was running a cover story on the closing of Star Clipper.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Star Clipper is a comic book store.
“All that fuss over a comic book store?” you may be asking. “Why the fuss?”
I don’t know, really. I’ve seen many a comic book shop open and close over the past 25 years here. None got this kind of attention.
Was Star Clipper a good comic book shop? Yes. It was big and clean and well-lit. It had a large offering of graphic novels. It carried pretty much all your main periodicals. They had T-shirts and statues and miscellaneous. They had a lot of odd miscellaneous that I didn’t go for, but that’s true of most shops. The staff doesn’t bug you — too much.
(One thing Star Clipper didn’t have, that every other comic shop I’ve ever visited did have, is a spot in the back filled with boxes filled with back issues. I always wondered what SC did with their back issues once there wasn’t room for them on the shelves.)
So, was Star Clipper the greatest comic shop ever? No. There are plenty of decent comic book shops in St. Louis. Heck, I have two within a few miles drive from my house. Maybe that was the problem. The St. Louis area does have an unusually large supply of comic shops. Heck, I haven’t even been to all of them.
Star Clipper did have a great location. It was on the loop in University City, sort of the bohemian quarter of St. Louis. All kinds of cool and unique shops and restaurants. It was between the Chuck Berry statue and the Tivoli theater. I would stop there often on my way to or from movies.
They also offered the best deal on Free Comic Book Day. While most shops only doled out one-t0-five new comics, SC would let you take a dozen. The line to get in on FCBD was outrageous.
One day I discovered that I was paying a few cents more for comics there than I was in St. Charles due to U City’s higher sales tax. I never bought another comic book at Star Clipper. Comic books are already outrageously expensive to begin with, I’m not paying a cent more over taxes. Which is probably another problem.
At any rate, they’re set to close sometime this month so I figured I should make one last pilgrimage to Delmar. What have they done to the free parking lot? Why is it torn up? Why are they making it smaller? Do they not want people to visit?
I eventually nab a parking space and walk to the shop. It’s pretty busy for a Saturday afternoon (most comic shops are only busy on Wednesday afternoon). I do a couple of laps around all the shelves and finally settle on some farewell purchases: two issues of “Black Widow” and a Silver Surfer shot glass.
And with that, I was gone. Hopefully Fantasy Shop will move one of its dozen stores (which was probably another problem) to that location. Or someone else will open a comic shop there. It’s a good location. If they don’t screw up the parking.