Back in the summer of 2014, Baristanet featured a story on a new comic shop in Montclair, East Side Mags. Now a staple of the community, the store relocated to a new space in September and owner, Jeff Beck, has his eye on the future. East Side Mags moved from 7 South Fullerton Avenue to 491 Bloomfield Avenue, a two-minute walk. And walk they did!
Beck said he expected five or six people, 10 at most, of his plans to move the store. As the moving date neared, he said anyone who was able to help should arrive at 7 South Fullerton at 7am. To his surprise, more than 30 people showed up to help box everything up and walk it over to the new shop. They were done by 1:30pm. As Jeff put it, “An AMAZING feat!”
Beck grew up reading comics and visiting stores. His original vision for East Side Mags was a place that encouraged more young readers to explore the genre and where families could gather, browse, and discover new titles in a friendly environment. That hasn’t changed, but seeing that vision through meant making a change.
“During shutdown last year there was a lot of time spent in the shop trying to figure out how to keep the ship afloat and weather the pandemic without being able to have customers in the shop. This also spun out into thinking, ‘what can I do AFTER we re-open to keep people coming in and adjust how we do business?’” says Beck.
After reading many articles in various publications about retail businesses and learning about how the retail environment was predicted to change because of COVID, it became clear people were going to need more space to be comfortable. Hosting gaming events and the Saturday Morning Cartoon Club drawing class saw folks having to step over backpacks and squeeze around others to maneuver in the store. Beck decided it was time to look around at available spaces to see if a move to a new location was possible.
When Beck met Bob Silver of the Bravitas Group and, as he says, they “really hit it off.” A space at 491 Bloomfield Avenue, formerly home to Crazy Mocha, turned out to be the perfect spot and the rest is history.
“If we were the coolest comic shop in New Jersey before, now we have the space to prove it with all of our product spread wide instead of stacked to the ceiling and dedicated ‘event’ space in the back for gaming, signings, Free Comic Book Day, whatever we want to do without compromising the shopping/retail/product area. No more climbing over backpacks or squeezing through to see stuff! You can even bring a baby stroller into the space and do a lap around the store without bumping into anything!”
To celebrate the move, East Side Mags will host a Grand Re-Opening Celebration on Saturday, December 11th from 12:00 PM to 7:00 PM. The festivities will kick off with a ribbon cutting with all those who helped move as special guests. Montclair-native, Quashon Davis, author of Our Missing Colored Girls, as well as the trilogy, Masquerade, The Dirty Circle, and Suspect Behavior, will be signing from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Montclair’s own Notorious BBQ will be on hand, unveiling their signature sandwich and serving sandwiches from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM, or until they sell out. Artist Adriana Melo will be sketching from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Jeff has some additional unannounced giveaways and deals as well.
Stop in to say hello and pick up some reading material while you’re there!