Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 16 September 2015
Category: Features Comments View Comments


Comics fans in Cape Town are celebrating after Readers Den Comic Shop relaunched one of its stores in a bigger space that's filled with even more merchandise, collectibles, graphic novels, figurines, and comics than ever before.

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better

The Claremont flagship store of Readers Den Comic Shop in Cape Town relaunched at the end of August in a new location that used to belong to Wizards Books & Games (which has moved to a smaller store closer to the entrance) that is just a few metres from its old spot in Stadium On Main in Claremont. The reopening was celebrated with lots of great deals and specials that saw collectors and the most faithful queuing up long before the doors were opened.

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better
Above: Out with the old...

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better
Above: ...and in with the new!

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better

Mahdi and Nizar Abrahams, the brothers behind Readers Den Comic Shop, have been fervent comics traders in Cape Town since 1989 when, as students, they sold comics at the fleamarket at the old Green Point Stadium. In 1992 they opened their first books/comics store at the top of Long Street in a tiny premises that was less than 30 square metres. Two years later they moved to a bigger spot further down Long Street, which had a huge glass frontage that allowed for eye-catching displays and made it easy to peek inside to see all the white display racks, storage boxes, and walls, which were filled with comics and posters.

In 2002 they were forced to move as their Long Street landlord, the local government, wanted the premises for itself. By this time Long Street was in the process of gentrification and rent prices had shot up so the brothers decided to find a location in the Southern Suburbs, which ended up being the small Claremont store in Stadium On Main.

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better

In 2012 the brothers then opened a second store, which also specialises in boardgames and collectible card games, in Tyger Valley Shopping Centre in the Northern Suburbs due to a growing customer base in the area.

The new Claremont store is two and a half times the size of the old one and the extra space is very welcome. Not only can you move around freely, instead of struggling to pass people in the tiny aisles, but even more comics and merchandise are now on display and for sale as the brothers are now able to take more items out of storage and place them in the store at any one time.

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better

The store features eye-catching new black cabinetry that was built by Nizar, with the help of the staff, to display many more comics and graphic novels, and there is also an area near the entrance that is suitable for hosting launches and events, which was very difficult to do in the old store due to the lack of space.

Fans will be glad to know that the massive steel and glass display cabinet that houses Nizar's vast and impressive collection of figurines and models, which took up most of the display window of the old store, has also found a home in the new store. "That cabinet we took at least a half day to move," Nizar told me. "Every figure [was] packed up, glass doors, and shelves removed to make it lighter and then [it required] serious weight lifting (maybe dragging) to get across [the mall]! And then the joy of re-packing all the figures took another day...."

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better

The South African comics section has been expanded but the section still needs a little love. Mahdi told me that the cabinetry, which is designed, especially, to house and display graphic novels, doesn't quite work with many of the local publications and so that area is still a work in progress, as are a few other sections of the store that weren't quite ready on launch day.

I also noticed that there is still a lack of boardgames and collectible card games in the store so I asked Mahdi about it and he said that Readers Den has a gentleman's agreement with Wizards, which usually hosts tournaments and sells a wide range of games, not to focus on games at the Claremont store (which is why everything is at the Tyger Valley store). The Claremont store won't be venturing beyond Trumps cards and Dice Master merchandise, except for the occasional special event or launch, which Wizards has agreed the Claremont store can do.

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better
Above: Illustrator Pete Woodbridge was one of the local-comics creators who visited the store to celebrate its relaunch.
The extra space and expanded display areas for even more toys and figurines are welcome, though, and the graphic novel section looks especially fantastic. (The queue for the tills on launch day snaked around the store so I had lots of time to look at the graphic novel section, especially.) The Claremont store has always been the emotional heart of the annual Free Comic Book Day celebrations in Cape Town (if not the physical centre, as the celebrations spill out into every available space in the mall for special sales, the local-comics creators' marketplace, and the cosplay events), and it will be great to see the store area, itself, playing a bigger role in the future.

The fact that the store is back to its former glory is testament to the increasing popularity of comics, which is no longer just a geek pursuit, and I can't wait to spend more time there and discover many of the items that have been hibernating in storage for years.

Readers Den Comic Shop In Claremont Relaunches - And It's Bigger And Better

Readers Den Comic Shop: Official Site, Facebook
Mahdi And Nizar Abrahams: Readers Den, Open Book Festival Profile

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #batman, #books, #cape_town, #comics, #sacomics, #speculative_fiction, #star_wars

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