Midtown’s loss is Uptown’s gain as the “small but mighty comic book and game shop” in Kingston known as World’s End Comics makes ready to swap its tiny retail space at 588 Broadway for much-larger quarters. In fact, says co-owner Cristopher Livecchi, “We’ll be almost tripling the space” when they open the new store at 319/321 Wall Street in the Stockade District at the beginning of May. With 1,000 more square feet at their disposal, not only will Livecchi and his partner Michael Humiston be able to offer a much wider selection of merchandise in the front room, but they’ll also have a back room dedicated to gaming gatherings, readings and other public events.
It’s something of a wonder that World’s End still exists, considering the challenges it faced in its first two-and-a-half years of existence. It had barely opened its doors when the pandemic struck, and soon thereafter, customer parking on Broadway became problematic as the City of Kingston began tearing up the street as part of its Midtown traffic redesign. Nonetheless, the shop got lively word-of-mouth among the local comic geek community, and the owners – along with Livecchi’s wife Andrea Gatzke, who’s “heavily involved in day-to-day operations as well” – developed good relationships with local residents and businesses. Even their landlord, Morgan Coy, was consistently supportive of their efforts. “I’m a little sad to leave Midtown. It’s a very vibrant neighborhood,” Livecchi says.
Despite a growing reputation, “We needed to be doing more business,” he continues. “When we reached the natural end of our lease at our current space, we decided it was time to look for something bigger. We realized we had maximized what we could do.” They had already begun using the little shop for much more than selling comic books, games and books: Once people could assemble safely in public again, it was becoming Kingston’s go-to spot for weekly game nights and an incipient Dungeons and Dragons league, allowing veterans and newbies alike to embark on a campaign they call the West Marches.
The trouble was, with not much more than 300 square feet of floor space, the Broadway store couldn’t host games and events during regular business hours and still support retail walk-ins – especially since the regular gamemasters were the owners themselves. Once the new place is up and running, there will be a whole separate room for such gatherings, and much more flexibility for scheduling events. “We’re really excited about games being offered in-store during store hours,” says Livecchi. “It also enables us to provide space after school for kids to hang out and play games.” Some gaming, including D&D meets, will continue to occur in the evenings, to accommodate players of all ages.
The back room will also enable World’s End to host much more in the way of special events such as author readings and book-signings, talks, panel discussions and so on. “I’d like to have things like ‘zine workshops – things to get younger people to create. We want to provide space to fire people’s imaginations,” Livecchi says. Groups such as gaming clubs will also be able to rent the space at an hourly rate.
Significantly more square footage up front will be a game-changer for the retail end of the business. “We want to offer more manga. A lot of people are reading that. We can have more literary and alternative graphic novels, more middle-grade and YA books.” They’re currently exploring the possibility of diversifying their merchandise to include such geeky favorites as Funko Pop figurines and other toy items that appeal to fans of various fantasy and science fiction pop-culture franchises.
Works by local authors and illustrators, especially comics and ‘zines, were already a specialty of World’s End, and the partners want to dedicate more space to them. Livecchi rattles off some names of comics artists based in the mid-Hudson whose works are featured in the shop: Matthew Pleva and Paul Heath; Charles Fetherolf of Giant Earth Press; Mady G, author of the Invaders Zinn series; Uni Bowen, Monique Dixon and Michael Oppenheimer, creators of Kastor. The store also carries the anthologies of comics created by kids in Chris O’Neal’s Visual Storytelling workshops at The DRAW, the arts education program of Kingston’s Midtown Arts District.
O’Neal is the artist who created the striking mural of the character Morpheus from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels in the old World’s End store, which unfortunately won’t be able to make the move along with them. “We’re looking to dedicate some wall space for a gallery featuring the work of local artists in the new store – to hang some canvases,” Livecchi says. “We really want to support local creators.”
Formerly occupied by Brainstorm Computers and Technology, the new Uptown location is enviably sited right next door to the Kingston Candy Bar (and coincidentally, diagonally across the street from Hudson Valley One headquarters). “Having more foot traffic, I think, is key,” says Livecchi. “The Stockade District is more of a destination.” They’re counting on more out-of-towners discovering the shop as they explore Uptown’s many attractions. “Our hope is that we’re not going to be people’s only stop. We’re pretty excited to be next to the Kingston Candy Shop!”
World’s End Comics plans to close its Broadway location as of April 24, with a soft opening getting underway at the 319/321 Wall Street site by May 1. The Grand Opening is set for May 7, which also conveniently happens to be the date for the annual nationwide promotional event known as Free Comic Book Day. For updates on what’s planned for the opening event and beyond, visit www.worldsendkingston.com, www.facebook.com/weckingston and www.instagram.com/worldsendcomics.