By Andrew Wroblewski
Unfortunately, even superheroes have their weaknesses.
Michael Bradley, beloved former owner of what used to be comic shop Collectors Kingdom at 202 West Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station, received a phone call the morning of Jan. 7 that would change his life.
The comic shop that he operated since 1989 was gone; a fire wiped out the strip mall that housed his business, along with every comic, every statue, every figurine and every other collectible Bradley had – a collection he estimated to be worth more than $500,000.
“When the fire happened, it was just an overload of emotions [for me],” Bradley said. “I just got silent on the phone… I didn’t know what to do that first morning.”
But, like those same superheroes with vulnerabilities, Bradley and his super staff have the luxury of a following – a community of fans who, no matter what, will stand behind. Ever since the fire, fans and friends have helped Bradley to rebuild and begin selling comics once again out of a “satellite” location found at 135 West Jericho Turnpike. They are supplying donations through an “Indiegogo” fundraiser at www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-rebuild-collectors-kingdom.
“As crazy as it sounds, [scouting locations] was what I did most of the day [after the fire],” Bradley said.
That day after scouting, Bradley returned to the burnt shop and spoke with reporters. In that interview, he said, something he said caught him by surprise.
“I made a comment about the store meaning so much to past, present and future comic collectors,” he said.
“What’s a ‘future’ comic collector?” he remembered thinking.
Bradley turned around, and outside of the boarded up shop on a lock installed to keep intruders from trespassing, he saw something: a Polaroid picture.
“I went over there and pulled it out,” he said.
The picture, which featured a baby boy, read “Logan Nathaniel Hofguard: future comic collector.”
“It had to have been taken within last 48 hours, and I knew a couple that had been in the store just a few days earlier and was looking to buy something for a baby named Logan,” he said.
Logan as in James “Logan” Howlett, the alter ego of famous X-Men character, Wolverine – the baby’s father’s favorite super hero, Bradley said.
“That’s what future comic collector is, that right there,” Bradley said. “The store has run the gambit of generations at this point. I’ve been there long enough where the kids that I helped [pick out comics] are coming to with kids of their own.”
Along with rebuilding the shop for those former comic collectors, Bradley was also overwhelmed by the outpour of support from former customers and workers that vowed to help him “rebuild.” One such person is Timothy Wan, managing partner for Smith Carroad Levy & Wan law firm in Commack and a former employee of Bradley’s who is now serving as his lawyer.
“I read letter after letter [from people close to the store] about how much it meant to them and, really, that’s what kicked me,” Bradley said. “I stayed later that night [in the parking lot of the burnt-down shop] and stood there.”
Seven o’clock, eight o’clock, nine o’clock; Bradley said the time flew by and so did the customers. Person after person, he said, pulled up, saw the aftermath and gave him their condolences.
“You’ll get it back,” he recalled them saying to him. “You’ll get it all back; we just have to rebuild.”
That rebuilding has already begun. Along with the satellite location and fundraising campaign, which had raised $2,126 as of press time Monday, Bradley is operating a Facebook fan page – administrated by former employee and friend, Jade Torres – at www.facebook.com/CollectorsKingdom. There he sad, fans of the shop can check in for updates, including ways to help out even further, such as an upcoming fundraiser that is scheduled for Feb. 27 – with more details to be announced in the coming weeks, he said.