Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Sad Fate of Perelandra

In response to a question posted in one of the comments about my Comic Book store, here is what happened...
I of course left out some details about the whole Bag End/Perelandra exchange. Chuck the hippie had taken on a partner named Dennis. Dennis' role in Bag End was never too large; he worked sometimes when Chuck wasn't available, but was never too friendly or willing to talk comics. Frankly he was rarely around, and most people didn't know he existed.
When Bag End folded he lost his investment, which hadn't been too large to begin with. He wrote it off and would occasionally come into Perelandra and buy a few comics. He got friendlier as the months passed and finally approached me about becoming a partner in the new store. I said no, I wasn't interested in diluting my share of Perelandra. Wes's fifty percent was still floating around out there somewhere, although he had sold or gifted parts of it to some friends and customers so that they could say they were silent partners. Eventually they drifted away, but Dennis persisted, to the extent that one day he rode up on a new Honda 550 cc. motorcycle and told me it was mine if I took him in as a partner. That was awfully hard to resist. I thought about it for maybe thirty seconds, then said "Yeah!", grabbed the keys and rode off, leaving him to watch the store.
I remained the operator of the store for some years, with Dennis organizing things, helping out, working when I had other things to do, and doing some conventions. We put out a comic called Perelandra Comics and Stories, with me writing, Dennis drawing and writing, and local fans who had talent pitching in. Steve Mills was one of these talented fans who contributed to PC&S. He was a young comic fan who began hanging around and eventually became a partner after working for us for years for credit. He managed to build quite a collection of Spiderman comics in this way, picking up comics for fifty cents in trade that now are worth hundreds of dollars.
Eventually I needed more money than Perelandra could provice, so I sought an outside job and turned running of the comic shop over to Dennis. He shared a business sense with good old Chuck, wasn't real good at paying rent or paying for comics, and soon the distributors cut us off. His theory was that if you owed a corporation money they'd extend you credit in order to get their money back. Bad theory.
I was distancing myself from the store by this time. I was married, we had a new baby, and it just didn't seem cost effective to boot Dennis out and take over. I was making more money waxing floors than I could in the comic store, so I sold my share out to Dennis' younger brother for a pittance. About this time, the Honda 550 was returned to the bank for non-payment of the monthly loan. He promised to get me another, but never came through. I can't say I was surprised.
Dennis kept the store going for another year or so, running up debts and a bad reputation for not paying them off. When no comic distributors would deal with him he moved into gaming and did okay for awhile, but I heard complaints from old customers and business acquaintances to whom he owed money. They would go in the store and nobody would be there! Dennis would be in the back playing video games on his computer. He'd grudgingly come out and take their money if they insisted, but he didn't really seem to care. Soon Perelandra was gone, emptied overnight, abandoned with months of rent owing. He relocated to San Rafael, 35 miles south, and opened under a different name. It would be nice to report that the store failed, but he kept it going for another six or seven years with little success.

4 comments:

  1. Postscript; a couple of years ago the Stenlund twins, original customers of Perelandra who actually put out a limited edition tee shirt showing the front of the store with the inscription "Center of the Universe 1974-1980) reported to me that they had purchased at auction a storage unit containing boxes and boxes of comics that had the inscription of Dennis' second comic store--so he lost his storage unit down the road. Time wounds all heels.

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  2. You know, your blog is the only mention on the internet about Perelandra. Ya need to post photos. some Jonah Hex covers, too!

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