Two decades of comics
When you walk into Carry-On Comics you can expect to find the owner, Andy Brast, making jokes with customers, a few posters and a lot of comic books.
Current owner Andy Brast bought Carry-On Comics Sept. 1, 1991. Brast had been managing a store down the road when he accidently received a delivery addressed to Carry-On Comics. It was returning the delivery that inspired Brast to buy the business, which was slowly going bankrupt. Unlike the previous owner, who Brast described as “a jack of all trades,” Brast emphasized that “we are just comics.” Today, Carry-On Comics is run by Brast, Sherri Moyer, the manager, and Brast’s son who works part-time.
With no formal business education, Brast was entering unknown territory when he purchased the store. He explained, “I had managerial experience but the hands on, learning how to do all of this [running a business], was learning from the mistakes of the owners I worked for.” Despite Brat’s success, he warns that in the comic book business its not always easy to make a sell.
“The hard thing about this business is that,” said Brast, “you’ve got to get people to buy things, if you don’t have what they want they’re not going to buy it.”
Adding to experience of running the stores he said, “My analogy is always snow tires. If you need snow tires, you go to Canadian Tire and if they don’t have the brand you want you buy another pair. But if you come here and I don’t have the comic you want, you leave and I get zero.”
When asked what makes Carry-On Comics different from other stores, Brast jokingly answered, “Me.” On a more serious note Brast explained, “You have to bring something different to the table then everybody else. In terms of comic books it’s all about personality because you can’t really offer discounts.”
Carry-On Comics has created a community of shoppers. Brast explained, “I’ve got faithfuls that come here all the time and I’ve become friends with them. I know their names and for the people that have subscriptions, by the time they walk in the door I’ve usually got their comics on the counter waiting for them because I even know what car they drive.”
This is probably why the voters at Echo magazine awarded Carry-On Comics the award for “best comic book store” three times.
Brast’s favourite comic of all time is Batman, the Dark Knight Returns. But his love for comics is deep-rooted. “I’ve been reading and collecting since I was six years old, I can’t remember how it started, I just loved them and I never stopped. Every penny I had I bought comics.” Don’t expect that love to falter any time soon, as Brast jokingly stated, “This is what I like to do, my retirement plan is called freedom 85.”