Granite Staters are harnessing the power of their comic book fandom and creative hobbies to start small businesses and side hustles.
Between Free Comic Book Day (Aug. 14) and Granite State Comic Con (Sept. 18-19), Manchester Ink Link will be showcasing these entrepreneurial nerds, who have opened comic and toy shops, started selling aftermarket comic books and collectibles or offering professional photography that specializes in cosplay, to name a few.
NORTH HAMPTON, NH – Last Halloween, a new store opened up in the New Hampshire Seacoast. Rich Reina, a lifelong comic book fan, opened Miller’s Comics, Cards, Collectibles and Toys at 65 Lafayette Road in North Hampton.
The roughly 750-square-foot space, tucked at the corner of a small strip mall, boasts a massive collection of old comics and also sells new comics from the direct market each week. They also sell toys, trading cards and sports cards.
You’ll also find comic-themed art on the walls, created by local artists, that’s on sale by consignment.
“We are a multimedia place. We do a large number of comics, we also do trading cards like Pokemon and Magic the Gathering,” Reina said.
Eventually, the Exeter resident said he would love to host card game events for games like Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic the Gathering, and host paint nights for miniature game systems like Warhammer 40,000.
This is Reina’s dream job, but he said he’s also striking while the iron’s hot.
“Certainly nowadays people are getting more into collectibles,” Reina said. “Reading has become a big upswing as well as family card games or family gaming.”
He also buys vintage toys, comics and collectibles.
Reina runs the place with the help of his girlfriend Taryn LaMontagne. He named the place after his rescue dog, with the original hope of making the business a dog-friendly space that partnered with local rescues.
“But unfortunately my landlord put the kibosh on that,” Reina said.
Reina first got into comics when he was about 10 years old in 1983, when a friend introduced him to Spider-Man comics. Later he got into X-Men, which became his personal favorite.
“Those were the ones I really went hard after,” he said.
He always loved going into local comic shops to see what they had. Reina said he was a diehard collector in his 20s and 30s, and he kept all his old action figures. His personal collection became the initial store inventory.
For the past 22 years, he’s been working for a Massachusetts-based beer distributor. But when bars and restaurants closed down last year, he took stock of his situation and decided now was the best time to open a store.
He’s still working his day job for now, but said he plans to continue the store for the long haul.
“This is long-term for me. This will likely be retirement,” Reina said.
He said he will probably look at getting into the comic convention scene sometime next year.