It all started back in the early 1990’s. At that time, comic book stores were popping up all over the country.
Steve, an avid collector of comic books and original art for some 30 years, was a corporate/real estate attorney living in Westchester and commuting to Manhattan. Gene, his local comic shop owner, had mentioned that he was thinking about opening a second store. Kevin, former manager of one of the old Heroes World stores, had always dreamed about one day opening a store of his own. While the idea hadn’t really crossed Steve’s mind, like so many other collectors, he began to think that being the owner of a comic book store would be so cool.
One of Steve’s many, sometimes eccentric philosophies is that, “things happen for a reason.” Therefore, it was Destiny that these three should get together at that particular time and naively set out to make their dreams come true. They were literally three geeks with a dream.
Alternate Realities first opened its doors on June 19, 1992. It was one of a couple dozen comic book/baseball card-type stores in the county and, to quote Egg Shen from one of Steve’s favorite movies, Big Trouble in Little China, it “wasn’t easy.”
One Sunday during that first year, Steve worked a full day at the store, drove two hours to the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut with the weekend’s receipts in the hope of making enough to help cover rent, played all night, lost $200, drove back, took a shower, changed and opened up the store on Monday morning to work another full day. It was a desperate time.
Then came the first store’s winter. The snow was fell so heavily that no one was coming by. Schools were closed. Roads were empty. Three of the local neighborhood kids walked in and Steve told them to go home, get their shovels and meet back here. They closed the store that day, went around the neighborhood to shovel driveways and split the money. Steve still laughs that he felt like Fagin from Dicken’s Oliver Twist.
In those first few years, since there weren’t many customers coming in so Steve played a lot of cribbage, rummy and dominos with anyone who came in. Again, Steve can laugh now about how if every check that had been written were to miraculously clear at that moment, the checking account would “only be at negative $300.” He still laughs about the one day that the store only made $19. Yes, it was a struggle.
Certainly it wasn’t all bad. Business eventually picked up. Alternate Realities was named Best Comic Book Store in Westchester Magazine in 2004 and Best Comic Book Store in Hudson Valley Magazine in 2005. But even better, the cast of characters that came through these doors has been classic. Put a dozen of them on a deserted island and you’d have the craziest, most entertaining reality show on television. The store has been the center for plenty of drama, romance, heartbreak, and even the loss of a friend or two before their time. But, looking back after 15 years, it’s been good here.
Steve went back to practicing law down on Wall Street in the late nineties but eventually returned to the store full time. Over the years, the ownership of the store has changed (Brandon in; Brandon out; Prem in; Brandon back in; Steve out; Steve back in with another Steve; Brandon & Prem out; Brandon, Metal & Drew in; another Steve out; Brandon, Metal & Drew out). Except for a short period, Steve has been the store’s one constant entity. No doubt someone out there is probably saying that Steve was the one guy who wasn’t smart enough to get out and stay out when he could.
Although most of the other shops in the area have closed up, with the strong support of good friends, family and loyal customers, Alternate Realities continues to be a favorite among comic book fans. Things happen for a reason and, while Steve is still trying to figure out the reason he’s still here, Alternate Realities looks forward to continuing to be one of the best stores around.