Saturday, April 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Newbury Comics!

Newbury Comics is the name of a chain of retail stores in New England.  The chain currently has 28 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine.  They do indeed sell lots of comic books and graphic novels and the like, but they offer a LOT more too: books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games, t-shirts, posters and lots of toys, action figures and other goodies from all corners of pop culture: superheroes, Star Wars, Doctor Who (old and new), The Walking Dead, Star Trek, and all your favorite bands (just to name a few).

I just found out a couple days ago that Newbury Comics was celebrating its 35th anniversary on April 6, 2013.  To commemorate the occasion they had a giant one-day sale where nearly everything in the stores was 35% off (even sale items)!  I was never a very dedicated comic book reader, but always loved taking a trip to Newbury Comics to check out my favorite movies, music and other neat stuff.  A giant 35% off sale was a great excuse to make a trip to Newbury Street in Boston (the flagship store for the chain).

It seems hard to believe that Newbury Comics has been around for thirty-five years.  The store's not as old as me (I was eight when it opened, and didn't start patronizing it until my teenage years), but it's still hard to imagine.  In 1978 vinyl records weren't a neat and hip option for music--they were the main format for music.  When I first started going to the store the big format was cassette tapes.  Later on CDs came along.  Now the CDs (and the vinyl selection for that matter) have to duel with virtual adversaries like mp3s and iTunes.  Newbury Comics has also weathered the home entertainment revolution spurred by the video cassette recorder (VCR).  VHS (and Beta) tapes were eventually replaced by DVDs and Blu-ray (which have their own virtual adversaries online).

Despite being such a New England institution for so long and having 28 outlets, Newbury Comics still manages to feel like an independent local store rather than some giant cookie-cutter chain store.  Speaking of the big chains, when my friends and I used to travel into Boston to cruise Newbury street--and Newbury Comics--back in the 1980s this now-vacant building used to house a gigantic multi-floor Tower Records store.

Back to the sale.  I got to the store a few minutes before the doors opened at 10:00 AM.  There was a modest line of people waiting to get in.  Obviously word of the big sale had gotten around.  It was kind of funny watching the other Newbury Street shoppers walking by and trying to figure out why people were lined up in front of the store.

Waiting for the doors to open
Time to spend (and save) some money!

When the store opened the crowd moved inside.  It was relatively quiet at first, but in the approximately hour-and-a-half that I spent there, the store filled up with bargain hunters pretty quickly.  People congregated around their areas of interest (comic books, jazz CDs, t-shirts and other clothing, DVDs and Blu-rays...).  The most interesting group (to me at least) was the crowd of eager vinyl fans pouring over the record section.

Vinyl collectors (right), with posters and Doctor Who merchandise nearby
T-shirts and racks of CDs

Some of the comic books for sale in the store
a selection of superhero banks

It was hard to resist these Han Solo in carbonite ice cube molds!

While I spent most of my time browsing, I did manage to find a few things (four to be exact) that I just couldn't resist.  It felt odd not buying any music (or even a few comic books), but I still think I ended up with a pretty good representation of what Newbury Comics is about.  The first thing was a Ghostbusters t-shirt (that glows in the dark!), which I've been planning on buying since last October to replace an old one I have that has a hole in it.  I'm always looking for a bargain and find it hard to shell out $19.99 for a t-shirt.  With the 35% discount the Ghostbusters shirt only cost $12.99!  Guess it was worth the wait.

I also got a wind-up Doctor Who Dalek toy for The Little Monsters (and, yes, for me too I suppose).  This one had a price on it of $9.99, but with the 35% off deal it only cost me $6.49.

The last two items I bought were movies sets on DVD.  As it turns out they were both very appropriate choices for the day.  It just so happens that both of them were originally released in 1978--the same year that Newbury Comics opened!  First up is the four disc Special Edition set of "Superman: The Movie" (1978).  I have a bare-bones set of all four of the Christopher Reeve "Superman" movies, but couldn't resist what was probably the bargain of the day.  The price tag on this one was a more-than-reasonable $6.99.  But it was already on sale for only $3.99.  With the anniversary discount added it only cost $2.59!  That's well under a dollar per disc!

And finally, I also got the Ultimate Edition four disc set of "Dawn of the Dead" (1978).  This is a movie I already have on a single DVD, but to get this set for a ridiculously low price was a no-brainer (no zombie pun intended).In addition to the U.S. theatrical release (that I have on my older DVD) this set also includes the Extended Version and the European Version of the film along with a bunch of extras.

The funny thing about this set was that the store had two copies of it on the shelf.  One was a used copy that had a price of $14.99.  Right below that one was a brand new copy for...$13.99.  Yes, I paid a buck less for a new copy!  Actually I paid quite a bit less, because with the discount added in it only cost $9.09.

Hmmm.  $14.99 used or $13.99 new?  Tough choice!

These four items would have cost me a total of $50.96 (without Massachusetts tax added) according to the price tags (and not counting the sale on the "Superman" set.  With the 35% anniversary discount it really felt a bit like time was rolled back and I was paying 1978 prices.  The whole mess, including tax cost only $32.30!

Here's a video I made about the Newbury Comics haul:

Happy Anniversary Newbury Comics!

And here's to the next thirty-five years!

1 comment:

  1. it was a great sale. just wish i hadn't been so busy saturday so i could have gone to the giant store in norwood. they have a great vinyl selection there. would have loved to have gone there. sigh.