Little Island Comics has opened in Toronto, Ontario, and it may be the world’s first comic book store specifically targeted to children. It quietly opened this week, with a more formal grand opening planned in the near future. The store is run by The Beguiling, an acclaimed comic book store in Toronto that has been open for 25 years now.
What a smart move!
Comic books needs kids, and fortunately more educators and parents than ever have been realizing that comics are a great reading and education tool for kids. But as you might’ve noticed, some of the material isn’t exactly appropriate for younger readers. Having a store exclusively dedicated to reaching this specific demographic, parents have a peace of mind that only the right material will reach their kids’ hands. And with workshops and other events planned for the store, it should build a wonderful community that encourages kids’ creativity and imagination.
It’s also great for a retailer to get so specific and specialized. With the digital side of comics growing, stores will have to find a good reason for customers to stop by beyond them carrying as much as everything that they can fit between their walls. Because there’s no competing with Amazon.com‘s warehouses or comiXology‘s ever-deepening library. So, survival will depend on the ability to engage customers and the larger community in specialized retailing like children’s comics. Or maybe literary and art comics, and mini-comics. A unique experience will be more important and more valuable than simply having every volume of Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America.
Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles has done a great job at this. It helps that they have a massive space to work with, which gives them a much larger selection. But they also have international comics and mini-comics and more experimental material. And most of all, they’ve become a destination for events. Stand-up comedians regularly perform there now. Popular podcasts regularly do live broadcasts from the store. An art gallery in the back displays comics art exhibits of varying themes. Workshops are held there. Every week, there are a large number of events being held there. Meltdown Comics is a venue as well as a store. They are a physical destination that gives patrons more than any online shopping can give. Other stores in Los Angeles have similarly transformed themselves but none on the scale and success as Meltdown.
I’m hoping Little Island Comics has just as much success, and helps strengthen the children’s comics market.
Full press release after the jump.
The Beguiling Books & Art is proud to introduce
LITTLE ISLAND COMICS
North America’s first comic shop exclusively for kids!
TORONTO, Ontario – The Beguiling is pleased to announce the opening of North America’s first children’s comic shop—Little Island Comics! Offering the widest possible array of graphic novels, manga and comics for people 12 years old and younger, Little Island Comics will also present a robust roster of children’s programming and workshops in its ample events space in the weeks and months to come.
Little Island Comics is founded by The Beguiling, one of North America’s premier comic book and graphic novel retailers. The Beguiling was the inaugural recipient of the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award, and has been celebrated by comics creators including Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Odd and the Frost Giants), Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), and Jeff Smith (Bone, Rasl). With The Beguiling entering its 25th year as North America’s destination for all things comics, the opening of Little Island Comics marks an expansion into an underexplored retail niche—comics for kids!
“We’ve always strived to present the fullest picture of what the comic book medium has to offer readers of all ages,” said The Beguiling’s Owner Peter Birkemoe. “With the bright, colourful, and kid-friendly new space we’re going to be able to directly engage that next generation of comics readers, offering them everything from hit graphic novels like Bone to classic comic strips including Peanuts and Moomin, and even some great Japanese manga like Swans in Space.”
“It’s everything we were able to offer kids at The Beguiling, and so much more,” he added.
Little Island Comics is located on Bathurst Street just south of Bloor, a short block from its parent store and just a few doors away from the recently-moved Sonic Boom record shop, making their Mirvish Village neighbourhood a single stop for comics and culture for the whole family! The design of the new store incorporates a versatile events space in anticipation of author and creator events. Through a schedule of kids’ how-to comics workshops, Little Island will inspire a new generation of comics writers and artists! For more information, and to keep up to date with programming and workshops, visit http://littleislandcomics.com.
Little Island Comics will be staffed by The Beguiling’s Library Services team, which has been helping school and public libraries curate their comics collections for more than ten years. Comics as a medium has become a mainstay of educational library collections in the last decade, and parents and educators will appreciate the expert help in selecting titles that address curriculum objectives, learning challenges, and a wide variety of reading levels. Kids will appreciate the engaging visual storytelling in some of today’s most popular books for young people!
While the official opening party will occur later into September, Little Island Comics is now open for business from 11am-7pm Monday-Saturday, and 12pm-6pm on Sunday, for all of your kids-comics needs.
For more information, to arrange interviews or tours of the space, please contact email@example.com, or Peter Birkemoe at The Beguiling, 416-533-9168.
Little Island Comics is managed by Andrew Woodrow Butcher, a bookseller with over 12 years of experience and who has specialized in Children’s book retail at Chapters/Indigo, helming the country-wide reinvention of their kids book sections. He leads a team of dedicated booksellers who have a great deal of experience selling children’s comics to the school and public library market, with specialty knowledge in curriculum, manga, picture books, etc. Clients include the Toronto Public Library, OCAD libraries, Ottawa, Hamilton and Vaughan Public Library systems, libraries across the Canadian provinces and territories, and international schools in Europe and Asia.