Hello reader, Jermaine here. Your resident Lord Retail of Acme Comics in Greensboro North Carolina.
A while back I was curious as to how long I’d been working at Acme Comics. I had a general idea, but I was curious as to specifically how long. What was my start date. Utilizing my legendary persistence and inquiry tactics I learned that my official hire date was September 23rd 1996. That means on Saturday September 23rd 2017 I will have been working for Acme Comics for twenty-one years.
Twenty-one years. There will be a few of you reading this who may not have been born yet in 1996. And there are some of you who I’ve known the whole time. Many of you had no children when we met and now those children are entering college, or the workforce, or have been there for a while. Some of you reading this will have come and gone and come back again and I was still there like no time had passed.
Whatever the story of how we met, I’ll tell you that this has been a time of reflection for me.
I’ve only ever had two jobs in my life. That may surprise some or sound about right to others. In my previous life I was a grease monkey. Or rather I could go through the process of changing oil. Letting the old oil out, removing the filter, replacing the filter, adding fresh oil. Later I would be a licensed motor vehicle inspector. It was a job I was proud of: I had certification, I was official, and I didn’t let anything go. Not a bald tire, not a broken turn signal, not worn out windshield wipers. I took the job seriously because I knew that something small that I let go could really impact someone. Maybe that tire blew out at a critical time, maybe the driver couldn’t see during a downpour.
Broadly, in day-to-day life I’m not a detail-oriented person, but when the beam of my full focus is aimed at a task, the little things matter to me enormously.
Technically, I’ve worked for Acme Comics longer than twenty-one years. There was a time after 1994 when I graduated from Grimsley High School, but before I started official work in 1996 where I was around. And some of you saw me. I would leave my paying job to come hang out at Acme Comics Lawndale. To see what was going on, to see how I could help out. It wasn’t from a pure sense of altruism because I made fast friends with Joe Schram, who actually worked at Acme while I was just volunteering my time and ideas.
Together, aside from talking comics and video games, our real goal was to make the environment around us a little better. Make things easier to find, make the best stories stand out front and center, to really interact with customers and connect them with the things they were looking for or didn’t even know existed. Those core sentiments of improvement and connection, which we never really spoke about back then, carried over to the people around us. For the last twenty-one years, I’ve seen those values manifest into an enduring spirit of volunteerism and community that continues to inspire and surprise me. These things are the core elements Acme Comics, and they continue to this day.
As I’ve been thinking about these two decades working for Acme Comics, a realization came over me a few days ago.
I don’t work for Acme Comics.
Yes, I work at Acme Comics. Follow my logic and you’ll see where I’m at.
In reality I work for Willie Breeze. I work for Josh and Greg Evans. I work for Vivian Maynard. I work for Sonia Jimenez. I work for Paul Stutts. I work for Kirk Jordan. I work for Stephanie Jobe. I work for Chad Merritt. I work for Hannah Greer. I work for Deavion Person. I work for Dan Schoultz. I work for the Carroll Family. I work for the Krasowski Family. I work for Deirdre Sykes. I work for the people who moved away years ago. I work for Holly Habecker, Tony Pietrantozzi, Sam Hawley, Kevin Kraven, and others who are no longer with us, but made Acme Comics a regular part of their weeks and months. I work for the people I have not met yet, people who have not yet discovered Acme Comics.
I work for whoever is reading this, and I do so through the space that is Acme Comics.
I think that science fiction writer and former longtime Acme Comics customer M.A. Foster saw that I wasn’t just here to ring up sales when he first decided to call me “Lord Retail” for no discernible reason one day many, many years ago. I will ring up sales, stock books, order items. I’ll do those things, but it isn’t why I’m here.
I’m here to see you when you come in, to connect you to the stories you love, share things you might enjoy, offer you a third place, and to help you in any way I can.
I cannot possibly list all of the people I work for, so please forgive the briefness of the names I did mention.
Through Acme Comics I serve as an ambassador and friend of comic books and the people who love them. Through Acme Comics I use my skills and knowledge to connect people with the cool things they are interested in. Since they were kids or since they first learned of them a few weeks prior to release.
That is why I am here in Greensboro, and that is why I do what I do. Or at least a this is a small glimpse into it all. 😉
Most people are not lucky enough to enter into a job, one that becomes a career, involving something they know and enjoy well. I have been incredibly lucky in my life to work with a subject matter I know well. One that I’m learning new things about often. And I have been lucky to interact with, and to help grow, the finest community anywhere on the planet.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my ongoing journey. Everyone who has worked with Acme Comics before me, with me now, and those yet to be a part of the story. Everyone who has called Acme Comics their home, and EVERYONE in between over my years in this store.
Thank you all for making it possible for me to be here for twenty one years and here’s to twenty one more working with you as a part of this wonderful and unique community.
Jermaine Exum, Lord Retail est. 1996
LORD RETAIL’s FOREVER 21 BACK ISSUE SALE!
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 23RD!!
To show my thanks to the community for supporting me these last 21 years, on Saturday September 23rd, I declare that general back issues (standard bagged comics in the bins NOT including variant covers, back wall, or silver/bronze modern boarded comics) shall be 75% OFF their marked sticker price from the hours of 10AM until 7PM.
Come by this Saturday and say hello, rediscover some old favorite series, discover new ones, and enjoy the place that you’ve helped build for us all to be a part of.