Nerd It Up co-owner Travis Gooch hopes his new comic book store in Gerald is a safe place for kids to hang out without fear of repercussions. He also hopes the physical location will complement his growing online sales.
“I know being a nerd is more acceptable these days, with all the movies and stuff everyone loves, but there’s still kids out there who are like, ‘Man, I really don’t have a place to express myself,” Gooch said.
With a grand opening on May 4, the former 900-square-foot Chinese restaurant has been converted into a haven where books, games, souvenirs and other merchandise can be bought, traded and sold.
Located at 120 W. Fitzgerald Ave., the first thing you notice at Nerd It UP are the hundreds of comic book pages glued together to create a colorful patchwork floor. Stakes of action figures hang above rows of classic comic books and video games in the back corner, waiting for someone to bring them to life. Gooch uses old consoles to test games he plans to sell, but he said anyone can play them for free.
Gooch said he and his wife, Heather, have been “slowly building a building” for about eight years. They’ve attended conventions and bought and sold memorabilia online so far. He said they had around 20,000 books, almost 10,000 trading cards and over 1,000 action figures on display in the store.
The majority of Gooch’s books are $1, but prices may vary depending on condition and rarity. Right now, he has a book with Cable’s first appearance, which he values at around $400. A “big dollar” Magic: The Gathering trading card that Nerd It Up has in stock right now is worth $40.
Although he said there might not be a massive market for comics in Gerald, Gooch said the store would also serve as a warehouse for his online sales, whose revenue – 800 to $1,000 per month – was used to purchase the building. Gooch didn’t give a purchase price, but said he and Heather did all the work to renovate the building, spending $6,000 to $7,000 to turn the old Panda Take-Out into Nerd It Up. .
Gooch said his future plans include hosting game nights, where people can gather to play Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, for example.
“I’m basically a mini comic book convention,” Gooch joked.
Gooch said that when he was in high school, he played sports because it was expected of him. Standing six-foot-six, he was an all-conference lineman for Owensville, but always suppressed his enjoyment of the comic books for fear of being laughed at. With Nerd It Up, he encourages kids to come in and stay as long as they want. Normal store hours are 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays.
“I want people to feel comfortable,” Gooch said. “I want people to come and have fun. You know, if they buy something, great. I like it, but it’s not my main goal.