VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) — Andre Oliver recalls the years toward the end of his time in the United States Air Force — a time he spent going to comic book stores to analyze how they were managed and how the owners treated people who came through the door.
He was looking to start his own comic book shop and wanted to see what worked and what didn’t, eventually opening the doors to Kool Comics in 2002.
Oliver said he remembers feeling a sense of foreboding leaving the military to start the shop.
“I didn’t necessarily have the support from my family and friends that I needed to feel as enthusiastic about what I do as I do now,” Oliver said.
But by August, Kool Comics will celebrate 20 years in business: a community staple and the oldest comic book store in the history of Lowndes County and area.
He said he was proud because everything went well. One of the things Oliver really remembers learning from other comic book store owners is how they treat customers.
What he got out of it was the desire to create an atmosphere close to that of the bar in “Cheers”. For Oliver and his customers, it’s a running joke that he’s basically the bartender and that comics are the drinks people enjoy.
Along with that, there’s a hub for stories, good company and camaraderie that keeps customers coming back because, to Oliver, Kool Comics isn’t just about selling comics.
“I like getting to know people – customers – as friends (and) advising them on different aspects of their lives, of course, if they’re looking for that advice,” Oliver said.
This advice, he found, ranges from business ventures to marriage to having children. It’s a friendly, family-friendly environment that’s not just about buying comics.
It’s the Kool Comics experience.
This experience also led him to be featured in the “Access Guide to Black Comic Book Community 2020-2021”.
It’s a sourcebook for new and veteran comic book readers who want to learn about the creators of black comics, the stories they produce, the publishers, stores and conventions “that offer kinship, safe spaces and promote a variety of imaginative experiences through comics,” according to his description.
Oliver is featured again for the 2022-23 release. He said it was an honor to be part of the book.
“It’s the first time I remember having my picture and part of my story told in a book that’s on the shelves everywhere you go – in any major bookstore,” he said. he declares. “It was something that I was immediately very proud of.”
This wasn’t the only place where Oliver was spotlighted for his hard work and leadership abilities. These characteristics led to a dismissal in the race — and subsequent campaign — for state representative for Georgia’s 170th district in 2020 in the Democratic Party.
Oliver said that people in general should not seek power, but opportunity sought it. It wasn’t a time when he woke up and suddenly decided to run.
He said he often considered ending his career and part of his life as a politician, but it still took a few months to qualify before he decided to embark on an election campaign.
“I just wanted to get out there and represent the community and do my best,” Oliver said. “I hope that (I would inspire) other people to step up and try to serve their community.”
Oliver said it was difficult to manage his time between Kool Comics, the campaign, and his family in the midst of a pandemic.
Yet he considered it the right thing to do.
Between that, his spotlight in “The Access Guide to Black Comic Book Community” and the lasting impression of his campaign, Oliver finds himself blessed.
Oliver is also involved in the PlayStation 5 trade. It has reached and sold 12 since August.
Not all of them were sold for profit.
During the 2021 holiday season, he made sure to get PS5s into the hands of his friends and customers who just wanted to get one into the hands of their kids for Christmas.
These PS5s were compensated – sold at or near the market price he paid for them rather than a “for-profit” price.
This wasn’t Oliver’s first venture into the gaming arena – Kool Comics is a comic book, game and collectibles store – but he wants to delve more into games, especially games. video, in the future of the store.
Oliver wants everyone to know he’s welcome in the store.
“(Kool Comics) isn’t something you necessarily have to be in (comics),” he said, “Trust me, when you walk through those doors, there’s always going to be a book or product that will call you or a game that will catch your attention.