Okay — so it’s not “the” Watchtower that floats above Earth in the Detective Comics (DC) universe, but it’s easily the next best thing.
Dexter’s newest entrepreneur Ethan Ernst-Hodys is opening up a shop that is every Dexter kid’s dream: a comic book shop with candy, board games, toys (“action figures,” if you’re an adult who still holds an interest in collective plastic statues of comic book and cartoon characters), and a whole slew of other cool stuff.
And the Justice League will still be there in a way.
“It’s sort of intended to be like the neighborhood candy shop from the 40’s and 50’s,” Ernst-Hodys explained of his shop, which is adorned with a sign that promises “comics, candy, cards, and collectibles.”
There will be a segment of the store, located in the old Huron Camera building, dedicated to each of these categories of awesomeness. Ernst-Hodys wanted to provide a convenient place for people to get “all of the things that I like,” he joked.
Folks can buy the old time nickel and dime type candy and then turn around and check out Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, and Magic The Gathering cards.
The Watchtower will rapidly expand into board games and sports cards, once it opens its doors any day now around mid-June.
“Children’s interests are so much more complex and now you’ve got big kids like me who are interested in this stuff too,” Ernst-Hodys said.
This is his first foray into operating a retail business, having studied economics and computer science at the University of Michigan. Ernst-Hodys is a Rhode Island native who made the move to Michigan specifically to study at Big Blue.
At this point he still works as a software engineer and web developer for staple income, but Ethan hopes that the Watchtower will quickly stand on its own two feet as a business and justify more involvement from him and more opportunities to interact with the public, due to interest in board game events, card battling tournaments, and other neat occasional activities.
Ethan began his love affair with comic books and the stories contained within their pages when he was 11-years-old. His mother bought him Marvel’s Secret Wars issues 4, 5, and 6. He couldn’t wait to get issues 1, 2, and 3. His mind was blown when he figured out that there were six more issues in the 12-part Marvel mega-crossover event.
So why’s a guy who fell in love with comic books naming his comic book store after a DC super-team and emulating the colors found in the DC logo throughout the interior of his shop?
“I think people who start out DC when they’re young go Marvel later in life, and I liked Marvel stuff when I was a kid — it’s almost like a second life,” Ethan explained.
The hope is that people of all ages, genders, and walks of life will be able to commiserate and enjoy their interests within the safe walls of the Watchtower.
“Comic books are more expensive for 10-year-old’s now than they were when I was 10-years-old, so I want to make sure that I’m promoting the full list and providing a deep discount to those who need it, and since my mom is a reading specialist for 35 years I believe reading is important whether it’s a chapter book or a comic book,” Ethan said.
Having taught in Japan in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program, Ethan saw firsthand how comic books, or manga as they’re called over there, is an integral part of how children learn kanji, math and overall literacy.
“I want to drive literacy — to drive the eight to 12-year-old’s to read because although it’s a visual medium the writing deals with complicated subjects like building confidence and being yourself, and it’s written to a sixth grade level … these stories are also a modern day American mythology that is a part of our culture,” Ethan said.
While focusing on the younger set is near and dear to Ethan’s heart, he assures that the “whole spectrum” of comic book lovers and those who have ancillary interests like the battle cards, board games, and action figures will be able to call the Watchtower home.
“I think the spectrum of comic book fans is broader than it’s ever been,” Ethan said. “I want to include everyone. This isn’t just a guy thing. There’s an age spectrum and a gender spectrum that I want this place to be safe for, where we’re polite and watch our language and look out for each other.
“It’s just going to be a nice place for people who all like the same stuff to hang out and do what they love.”
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