Pictured from left to right: Rayce Ribble, Ron Maxwell, and Stephen Sharar.

Photo & article by Gina Myers

Rayce Ribble remembers the first time he visited Coy's Comics as a child. It was during the Saginaw Art Fair, and his aunt let him go into the comic shop to look at the Star Wars collectibles. The sheer amount of interesting items was overwhelming and he thought it was the coolest store ever. It wasn't until many years later that Ribble became a regular customer at Coy's, and now he has teamed up with Stephen Sharar, who co-owns the shop with Dave Coy, to help shape Coy's future.

Today the shop is looking quite empty. The shelves that used to be full of comics are bare and pulled off of the wall, exposing bricks that probably haven't seen the light of day since the shop first opened 25 years ago. There are boxes everywhere and workers are in constant motion, packing and preparing to move to a new location on Bay Road. The miscellaneous items they've come across while packing could serve as a brief history of the past 25 years of American pop culture: crates of records buried in the backroom, a Miami Vice poster, boxes of leftover Beanie Babies, trading card games that never quite caught on, and ICP and Pee Wee Herman dolls, are just some of the things that have been discovered in the recent upheaval.

Looking toward the future

Coy's has been in a state of transition for a number of years. Sharar grew up four blocks from the shop and has been a lifelong customer. When he started working at the shop part-time five years ago, Coy's was on the brink of closing. However, Sharar has worked hard to turn things around, and his role at Coy's increased.  When Dave Coy decided to retire, Sharar began running the shop and has now become co-owner. 

The decision to move to Bay Road was surprising to a number of people; however, it was something that Dave Coy had initially planned on doing ten years ago, but the deal for the space had fallen through. The new location, located at 2735 Bay Road, is about twice as big as the current shop on Hamilton Street. While the old shop could quickly become cramped, the added space at the new one will allow for Coy's to host tournaments and gaming days. Sundays will be a designated gaming day where customers are invited to come out and play anything from Magic to Dungeons and Dragons to basic board games, and there are plans in the works to host Magic tournaments for all skill levels.

Not only will the shop have more room, but Ribble and Sharar are hoping the location will help draw more customers. "We'd like to reach out to the college crowd. There's a social stigma that comic books are for kids, but we're starting to see graphic novels used in classrooms," Ribble explains. "Something like Watchman can be used in a philosophy class, and it's entertaining too." Ribble, who also plays bass in two popular local bands, wants to show people that comics can be cool. "Cool kids like comics, and Coy's Comics is the coolest comic shop in town."

Sharar echoes some of Ribble's sentiment. "We have a really solid customer base here, but we're hoping we can also grow and support a larger community." Coy's is known for its laid back environment and knowledgeable workers. Since the workers themselves are avid comic readers who keep up on what's going on, they are able to recommend titles and talk about the books with their customers. Coy's has always put the customer first, and they are happy to place special orders.

Old Town Nostalgia

While Sharar is optimistic about the move, he has witnessed a range of reactions to the news from his customers. There are many who are excited about the possibilities the new location will bring, but there are also those who are sad to see Coy's leave Old Town. When asked what he would miss most about the old shop, Sharar said, "Just the nostalgia of being in Old Town." 

Saginaw resident Adam McCauley is one of the people who is sad to see Coy's move. When he was a kid, he began visiting the store with his father. "It was like a museum of artwork, Star Wars toys, books, and posters," he says. "The smell of an old dusty rundown comic shop might really seem like a downer, but it's not. To me it just reminds me of a simpler, innocent time where deciding to spend my $3 allowance on three old comics or one new comic was the toughest decision I was going to make."

To McCauley, the Coy's on Bay Road won't really be Coy's, because his Coy's will always be remembered as  "across the street from the Stable. It has a broken down screen door, handwritten signs, sun-faded posters, and crumbling comic book heroes painted on the side of the building. The pavement in front of it is torn up and pre-existing bricks pepper the road. It smells like a combination of old cigarette smoke and newsprint."

McCauley acknowledges that his feelings are selfish, and he sincerely hopes that the move to Bay Road is successful: "I really hope the new shop makes them more recognizable to new customers and makes them a lot more money."

Betting on 2735

Convenience is a big factor with the new location. The shop in Old Town seemed out of the way to a lot of people, and Ribble himself didn't start shopping there regularly until it fell on his route home from work. At the time, Ribble liked to visit all of the comic shops in Saginaw, but he was slowly won over by Coy's thanks to Sharar.  In fact, the two have hit it off to such an extent, that they are now collaborating on a comic together, with Ribble doing the writing and Sharar providing the art.

Ribble says, "At Coy's they treat customers like friends, and that's a great feeling." Ribble and Sharar regularly share ideas over beer and keno, and they are always sure to play the street number of the new location. They are both excited about the possibilities of the new store, which will be a little more professional, but still informal and fun. They're positive their bet is going to pay off.

Sharar and friends have been working every day at the new location, painting, building shelves, cleaning, and moving stock. And while there is still a lot of work to do, he says they will be fully-functional when doors open on February 1st. 

The new Coy's Comics opens February 1st at 2735 Bay Road. The new store hours are Monday - Saturday from 12 - 8pm and Sundays from 12 - 6pm. You can visit them on Facebook here.

© Gina Myers, 2010