Located in an unassuming strip mall, one might expect Tate's Comics to just be some run-of-the-mill comic book shop with disorganized stacks of comics, a few toys, and an unhelpful clerk who regards you with distain as you interrupt him watching Japanimation.
So, it's always a surprise for a first-timer to enter the store. One part museum, one part Asian candy import store, Tate's is all a fanboy's wet dream. Its life-size statues of superheroes and Star Wars action figures in their original packaging held behind glass display cases will take your breath away.
Tate's is set to open a new location in Boynton Beach this autumn, so New Times hit up owner Tate Ottati to chat about his future plans and the crazy origin of how he got into the comic book business in the first place.
New Times: Tell us about the new location.
Tate Ottati: It's 2,300 square feet in the Boynton Beach Mall facing the movie theater, but you won't have to go in the mall to get in the store. We just started demoing it yesterday, and we should have it open in October for the big Halloween sale while the grand opening should be in November. But I don't want to give any firm dates yet.
How will the new location differ from the original?
The original will be called the headquarters. We think of that like a supermarket where you have everything. The Boynton Beach location will be more like a convenience store. We'll have graphic novels, statues, and toys, but no art gallery.
You were talking before about having a café. Will there be one in the Boynton Beach Store?
No. Back in February, March, we were in talks about getting a huge building with a café in it. That fell through, but meanwhile we had all this stuff with nowhere to put it, so that's how we decided to open the Boynton Beach store while we figure out how to expand to Miami.
So, you're opening a store in Miami?
It took 20 years to get to this point to open a second store, so it will take a little time to see how this goes with a more streamlined place. I'm hoping for the one in Miami to be more of a boutique store to have the feel of Kidrobot down in South Beach, so it can have a cool factor for people who aren't necessarily into comics.
How did you first get into the comic book business?
When I was 15, I had a box of comics and tried to sell them at a store. They only offered me fifty bucks. I felt they were worth more than that, so the guys at the store recommended I try to sell them at a comic convention. I did that, but I ended up buying comics instead of selling them. Then when Marvel Comics started issuing stock, I bought stock in them and sold the stock for enough money that when I was 17 I was able to open the store.
What comics do you recommend right now?
We just had an awesome creator in the store, Richard Starkings who has a comic called Elephantmen, about a guy who creates animal/human hybrids and starts a war with them. I love Fables and The Walking Dead is good. There's Superman: Red Son which shows what Superman would be like if he landed in Russia instead of the U.S. Peter Panzerfaust is by a local creator and it shows Peter Pan in World War II with Captain Hook as a Nazi. Really, there's something for everyone.