OSWEGO — A local landmark that has provided a home for lovers of comic books, collectibles and graphic novels for nearly three decades, the Oswego Comic Shop could be changing hands or closing soon, as the longtime owner retires.
Arlene Spizman made the decision to retire from the Oswego Comic Shop in an announcement on Facebook earlier this week. Spizman and her husband, Larry, are the owners of the Old Firehouse Building at 112 East Bridge Street, and have not yet made a decision about the future of the space.
The Spizmans could sell the Comic Shop to continue under new ownership, another business could open in the space, or they may decide to sell the building altogether. Less than year after the Comic Shop celebrated its 27th anniversary, however, Arlene Spizman announced she’d be walking away from the business.
There is no official closing date for the store, but it will stop receiving new inventory at the end of March.
Spizman cited a desire to spend time with family, specifically her grandchildren — a four-year-old granddaughter who lives on the west coast and a second grandchild coming in June — as her reason behind the decision to retire.
“I just want to be more flexible to be able to go visit and help out when I can,” Spizman said. “It’s time.”
Before opening the comic book store, Spizman and her husband ran an antique store called Timestopper Antiques in the same building for about seven years.
Arlene and Larry Spizman both developed an interest in collecting things when they first moved to Oswego in 1978, when Larry was employed as an economics professor at SUNY Oswego. While looking for furniture and appliances, they enjoyed the search so much that they began collecting.
“We just got caught up in going to auctions and shows,” Arlene Spizman said. “Its been fun. It was a great area at the time for finding things.”
The inspiration to open the shop came out of the death of one of the most recognizable characters in the comic book industry. In 1992, when Superman was killed in the plot of his series, the national interest in comic books spiked, giving Spizman the idea to get in while business was booming.
“It was a good time to get into the business,” Spizman said. “At that point I didn’t know anything about comic books, but I learned very quickly.”
The store eventually branched out into other ventures than the traditional comic books. This included board games, sports cards, role-playing games, graphic novels and manga. Spizman said she’s tried to stay ahead of the curve in terms of trends but now that she’s getting out of the business, doesn’t know what the next one will be. She speculates it will be “something electronic.”
With no other comic book stores in Oswego County, patrons may be forced to travel as far as Syracuse to fill their needs. The announcement of the shop’s closure sparked an outpouring of support for Spizman, longtime manager Martin Kinney and others at the shop, with many lamenting the end of the small business’ tenure.
In the announcement, Spizman thanked the community for supporting the shop over the years.
“I love the people,” Spizman said. “I’ve made so many friends and watched so many kids grow up and have kids of their own and that’s been great.”