GREENVILLE — Robert Young likes to take a risk now and then.
This drove him to run marathons after gallbladder surgery. This fueled his desire to hike a mountain like Mount Everest one day.
And it’s also the warehouse-style building at 410 S. Pleasantburg Dr. that he’s been negotiating for the past six years to buy and restore to become the new, larger home for his comic book store, Borderlands Comics and Games.
The new “Geek Mart,” as Young calls it, has been open to the public since November 12. Prior to that, Borderlands had spent the past three decades in a strip mall on Laurens Road alongside grocer Wilson’s, the Greenville Army and Navy Store and, most recently, a warehouse in Midtown.
Borderlands estimates there are about half a million comics in its total inventory, most of which are kept in vaults. High-value comics are behind the counter, while individually priced back issues are in stand-alone kiosks. The newer version is lined up on a 75-foot shelf that “looks like it’s going to last forever,” Young said.
The store occupies four times the size of the previously leased space. It moved and set up in four days, and its custom-made shelves stock board games, Pokemon cards, retro toys, video games, T-shirts, anime and manga. Yang Kai joked that his daily steps have doubled now.
“We’ve had success, but I think it’s going to reach a level that we probably never dreamed of,” Yang said.
As a warlord kid in the 70s, he traveled the East Coast. For him, comics are constant.
“Everywhere I go, the only thing I can get are collectible cards … and comics,” Yang said.
At 21, he came to Greenville and got a job at a comic book store called Heroes. The small chain originated in Charlotte and expanded to six locations during its heyday. That’s when Young delved deeper into the history of comics. His boss, Stan Reed, eventually bought the Greenville location of Heroes and turned it into Borderlands. Young worked there until 1998 before moving to corporate employment.
For more than a decade, he had been trying to get Reed to sell him the comic shop.
“Every year, I try to buy it,” Yang said. “Every year, he told me ‘no’ until 2010. I was very persistent.”
While out to dinner, Young remembers Reed writing a price on the back of a receipt and saying something like, “Before you get old, you deserve your chance.”
On the left side of the front door of the new space, a small nook displays nearly 90 framed photos, mainly composed of photos sent by customers to the owner. When in the corner, looking towards the store, a hidden message is written to the customer.
“Thank you for being a part of our journey!”
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