Lexington's A+ Comics, Games and Toys will soon be on the move, and its owners are hoping to do so with superherolike speed.
The store, which opened in November 2000 on Southland Drive, will move later this summer to more spacious digs farther down the road.
"Free Comic Book Day was absolutely crazy," said Christie Battaglia, who owns the store with her husband, Russ. The line, she said, stretched through the bulk of the shop for more than 21/2 hours.
"That was when we knew we had to move," she said.
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So they're saying farewell to their 2,500 square feet at 123 Southland Drive in favor of 5,500 square feet in a building in the 400 block across the street from Good Foods Market & Café and next to Southland Barber Shop.
"This continues to show the redevelopment of Southland Drive," said Paul Ray Smith of NAI Isaac, who represented the property owner in the lease. "Things are very positive for Southland Drive."
The Battaglias hope to move A+ by August and plan to do so over one weekend to minimize downtime, Christie Battaglia said.
Besides having more room to display merchandise, the new location will offer expanded gaming areas and more space for signings by comics artists and writers.
"We'll now be able to do regional tournaments for Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic," she said. "We qualified before, but we never had enough space."
The store averages 50 kids on Saturdays for Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments.
The shop had stopped doing signings "because we had so many people in the room," she added.
Robert Kirkman, the famed writer of the comic The Walking Dead that is now a TV show on AMC, stopped in before Christmas for a signing at the shop, which has a shrine to the Central Kentucky native.
"We had a little over 350 people in a two-hour span," Christie Battaglia said.
And with all those people came parking problems for the store, which is one of a handful of retailers in its building.
"The reason we went where we are is location, location, location," Russ Battaglia said. "Now that people know who A+ Comics is, we want to take that next step and have a bigger and better store with better parking."
Longtime customer Larry Profitt of Lexington welcomes the change.
"It's a very smart idea," said Profitt, who plays in HeroClix miniature tournaments at the store and buys comics for his 8-year-old daughter, Lindsey.
"With the amount of product they have, they need more space to put it out there," he said. "There are potential customers who can't see what there is to offer."
Children like Profitt's daughter are who Russ Battaglia hoped to reach when he opened the store in 2000, Christie Battaglia said.
He would take his son, who was 8 at the time, to other stores, "and a lot of them weren't kid-friendly," she said.
So he set out to open a store, even though he was by no means a comics expert.
"To show how little he knew, he ordered a Scooby-Doo card game over Magic: The Gathering," she said, referencing the wildly popular game. "He figured everybody loves Scooby-Doo, and he knew nothing about Magic."
Christie says she, too, had never read comics, but with a goal of providing strong customer service, they figured they would attract a customer base.
And the expansion proves they did.
"We give all the glory to God because he has tremendously blessed us," she said. "In this economy, to be able to upgrade is huge."