By Stefanie Holmes
The Bat Signal is not needed to bring Batman — nor his superhero friends and foes — to Cooper-Young. 901 Comics is set to open on Young Avenue, near Cooper, in early-to-mid June.
Born over a shared love of comic books, the new venture is the brainchild by Midtowners Shannon Merritt and Jaime Wright. Merritt, 44, a Memphis Police officer, met Wright, 31, at the P&H Café when Wright bartended there several years ago. Wright knew that Merritt was into comics and brought some issues to the bar for Merritt to look at. They mulled over the idea of opening a store for two-and-a-half years and got serious about the idea in the summer of 2015.
Their varied knowledge over different aspects of comics made the idea even more appealing. Wright has a vast knowledge over editions and issue numbers, while Merritt’s strong point is the story arcs.
“It works out,” says Merritt of their complimentary strengths and weaknesses.
One factor that Merritt and Wright feel might set them apart from other local shops is Wright’s current job; he is the booth manager for Stan Lee Collectibles. Stan Lee is the revered comic book writer who created the characters Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Man, among others, and is the face of Marvel Comics, the force behind such current cinematic superhero properties as the Avengers. Wright travels the world to comic book conventions in his role, and he and Merritt believe that the connection will draw comic book artists to the store for events and signings.
As the pair started looking into physical spaces, the first storefront they toured was 2162 Young, nestled near Greencork and Goner Records. After viewing several other spots, they kept coming back to Cooper-Young.
“It all came down to foot traffic,” says Merritt, noting the space had “a certain feeling.”
The store is being readied with fresh paint in primary colors, which the duo noted was inspired by the colors used in comics. The floor in the main part of the shop is painted bright red and is accented by the blue and yellow shelving and gray walls. The floor of the back room of the 1,300-square-foot space is painted blue. The store will carry comics and action figures, among other items, and will even feature items on sale by commission. Wall space is also being readied to display comics drawn by local artists and students, and events are to be planned around art shows and exhibits.
“We want it to be an experience,” says Merritt.
901 Comics, 2162 Young, will be open Monday – Thursday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Sunday noon-5 p.m. (901) 674-1740. You can find them on Facebook at facebook.com/901comics.