Written by Megan Malloy
The former Cranbury Bookworm building will soon become a whole new kind of bookstore - a comic book store. The historic building, purchased by David and Suzanne Allikas, will house Dr. Wonder Comics & Collectibles.
David Allikas has been an avid collector of comic books since the 1960s, and Collecting comic books was a childhood love of Allikas, and his own private collection spans the 1960s and early 1970s, which he said is when comics reached their peak in terms of quality. He is also a veteran of the comic book industry as a writer for DC, Marvel, and Archie comics in the 1970s and 80s.
Allikas’ interest was reignited a few years ago when he took his old collection out of storage and began selling items on eBay.
“I wound up buying more than I sold, because I found that I was able to find great bargains on eBay, at prices far lower than those offered by any of the comic book stores in the tri-state area,” said Allikas.
According to Allikas, collectors are often wary of buying items on eBay because they cannot verify their authenticity and purchases often come with undisclosed defects. Additionally, most comic book stores stock old back issues that do not sell and are overpriced, Allikas said.
“So my first thought was, why doesn’t some store stock a good collection of older comics at prices comparable to what you find on eBay?” said Allikas. “My next thought was—who cares? I’ll open my own!”
In addition to over 15,000 back issues of comics from the 1940s to the present, Dr. Wonder Comics & Collectibles will feature new comics, graphic novels, role playing games, hobby kits, science fiction and horror items, and more.
Dr. Wonder Comics & Collectibles is also planning on hosting regular events like “Walking Dead” viewing parties on Sunday nights, and movie screenings in the parking lot in the warmer months. The store will feature a lounging area with a TV, a game table, and eventually several arcade games.
“We hope to make it a different kind of comic book store, where instead of walking in and being ignored by the kid at the counter reading a magazine, you’re greeted by name,” said Allikas. “And you’re encouraged to spend as much time there as you want, talking comics or just hanging out.”
Allikas said that he and his wife jumped at the chance to buy the old Cranbury Bookworm building, located at 54 N. Main Street in Cranbury.“When my wife and I saw the Cranbury Bookworm building go up for sale, we knew it was the perfect spot,” said Allikas. Located on a prominent corner of Cranbury’s Main Street, the store is within walking distance of six eateries and Allikas said he hopes the store will garner foot traffic.
The property was sold at the end of May and a number of renovations are planned to take place over the course of a few months. Built in 1901, the Cranbury Bookworm building has its own rich history, having once housed the Cranbury Township offices. It was home to the Cranbury Bookworm from 1974 until last January, when the Bookworm moved up the street to 79 N. Main St.
Dr. Wonder Comics & Collectibles’ opening date is still unknown, but the Allikas’ are currently buying comics and other collectibles for the store. If you have an item you would like to sell, please call 609-578-3962.