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Just 15 years ago having a collection of comic books, playing with action figures, and spending hours on a video game would have labeled someone a geek, an outsider. Nowadays, you see rappers putting their names on video games, movies about comic book characters, and television shows where the geek is the person viewers cheer for to get the girl.
These three stores in the San Fernando Valley are places that the typical geek can feel at home. They can go into the store and spend hours finding people to talk to without any repercussions.
14555 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Only in Sherman Oaks’ small collector’s haven can a customer find John Lennon (10-inch figure) hanging out on the same shelf as Notorious B.I.G. (6-inch toy).
When it first opened in 1998 as a hobby store, Toy Mandala, specialized in comic books and trading cards. Today, they have expanded into the toys, video games, and anime areas as well.
Employee Dustin Hefley welcomes customers to come into the store and talk comics. “You have to be a geek to work here,” said Hefley. “You have customers coming in and you have to know the answer to any question they could ask.”
Toy Mandala is the first choice to browse hard-to-find and imported action figures from anime to cartoons/movies customers grew up watching.
Not only do they provide the geek culture with products and product knowledge, but Toy Mandala regularly hosts in-store demos and tournaments for both trading card games and video games.
Galaxy of Comics
17306 Saticoy St.
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Since its grand opening in February, Galaxy of Comics has already made a name for themselves in the comic community.
“Having worked at the Golden Apple on Reseda, regulars from the store seem to have followed me here,” said employee Dana Shukartsi.
As well as working at the store, Shukartsi writes the blog on the store’s website. On the blog, she reveals her comic pick of the week and gives an insight on the new releases that hit stores on Wednesday.
Shukartsi’s take on the sudden flow of comic book characters on the big screen is “Hollywood has run out of ideas. Also, comics already have an established fan base and they’re entertaining. It’s just practical to make a movie based on comics.”
Galaxy of Comics most popular character is Deadpool.
“It was a very serious word of mouth kind of thing. I told people to check it out and then I saw the comics flying off the shelves.”
Family Fun Arcade
10363 Balboa Blvd.
Granada Hills, CA 91344
The last remaining arcade in the San Fernando Valley, Family Fun Arcade gives you the chance to show off your skills against other self-proclaimed champions.
Hosting a tournament once every two weeks, employee Shy Levi always expects a huge turnout.
“We usually call other arcades (outside of the valley) and make sure they aren’t hosting anything on the same night as us. We don’t want gamers to be split on which arcade to attend.”
Regarding game consoles having games released just months after the arcade version is introduced, Levi said “It doesn’t usually affect the amount of people that come into the arcade. Some people just don’t enjoy the way people play online. Gamers like to see their opponent next to them.”
Levi relates playing a fighting game online to “playing poker with no money.”
Family Fun’s most popular games right now are BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger and Street Fighter IV