Area fans of comic books, cosplay, and fantasy collectibles as well as local video game players have found a home at Marion Centre mall.
Two stores that have opened at the mall on the south side of Marion in the past year and a half are providing what their owners say is a much needed outlet for people who enjoy those hobbies. Dark Iron Cosplay Designs and ThunderFury Comics – co-owned and operated by Matt Daniel, Paul Spencer, and Dan Scanlon – and Ready Up video game store and gaming lounge – owned and operated by Roger Drake and brothers Zach and Joey Abdelatif – are both doing well, according to their owners.
Spencer started Dark Iron Cosplay Designs in 2021 in a space near the theater in the mall, offering mainly toys and costumes for cosplay enthusiasts. Scanlon, a lifelong comic book and collectibles fan, then joined him, adding comic books to the store. Daniel, who has collected comic books for more than 30 years, started out as a regular customer and recently came on board as an owner.
“It made sense to have comics and collectibles together, and I was doing the costumes in the back (of the store),” said Spencer, who has been a costume designer for 14 years. “Matt was one of our comic book customers from the jump. Every day he came in. Then he had the chance to buy into the company and now we’re kind of a three superhero team.”
Spencer said the sales of collectibles “just took off left and right” from day one at the mall location. The addition of comic books has only enhanced sales, he said.
“Talking about the financials, the numbers are there,” Spencer said. “Before these guys came on board, I was ready to sign a five-year lease because I was just so surprised and happy with how well the numbers were doing. The first unit I was in here wasn’t big enough for all the toys and Dan’s comics, so we moved to this one. It’s twice the size and we haven’t had any problems filling it. We’re busy all the time. People come from all over the area to the store.”
Daniel said Dark Iron Cosplay Designs and ThunderFury Comics is fulfilling a need for local enthusiasts.
“This town hasn’t had a comic book store in about 15 years now,” Daniel said. “We can deliver the new books that people have been driving to Delaware or Bucyrus or Columbus to get and now they can get them here. We’re bringing in some older books. I’ve got about 7,000 comics from the 70s, 80s, 90s, that I’m currently pricing and they’ll be on the shelves soon. It’s just exciting to bring another comic shop back to Marion.”
The store has hosted numerous public events during its existence, including a recent cosplay contest and scavenger hunt that attracted hundreds of people to the mall on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It’s also a site for gaming enthusiasts hosting events for Magic the Gathering and Yugioh. In addition to comic books, collectibles, and costumes, the store also sells video games.
Dark Iron Cosplay Designs and ThunderFury Comics is open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 740-360-3442 or go to the store’s Facebook page Dark Iron Cosplay Designs.
Ready Up traces its roots back to when co-owners Roger Drake and the Abdelatif brothers “were just a bunch of guys hanging out, selling video games on eBay,” Joey Abdelatif said. The brothers formerly worked out of an 800-square foot space in downtown Marion prior to Drake coming on board. They made the move to the Marion Centre mall about six months ago.
“Zach and I were partners and then Roger started coming in every day, listing hundreds of items, doing really well,” Joey Abdelatif said. “We thought the mall was a great opportunity for us because the place we were at was so small. We have a lot of space here and it lets us do so much that we couldn’t do in the other place. We’re really growing too quickly and starting to run out of space, but it’s good. We’re doing really well here.”
Ready Up is located across the movie theater in the mall, a space that allows them to be more flexible with their hours of operation since the theater is open late. While the primary focus is on selling and buying video games and gaming equipment and providing a space for local gamers to play, the store also sells a wide range of collectibles and now has comic books. The growth of the business has been tremendous, Drake said.
“We’ve seen about a 500% or 600% increase in our business since we moved to the mall,” Drake said. “We’re almost at max capacity here, so we’re hoping to move into a bigger space. The goal is to take these stores and open more of them and keep growing.”
The gaming lounge portion of Ready Up is extremely popular, Zach Abdelatif said.
“At first, this was a lounge only, but the traffic here at the mall is so good, so we’ve had so many people come in,” he said. “Now they want to have tournaments and birthday parties and things like that here. We do eSports here along with the gaming. We’re sending teams from here all around Ohio to compete in eSports tournaments. It’s really been a great place for us.”
Ready Up is open from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For information, call 740-751-4723, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the store’s Facebook Page Ready Up.
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