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Photos by Louise Jett
Co-owners Asia Gryglewicz (left) and John Chaffee welcome all to Bigfoot Comics & Collectibles on Old Route 66 at 3121 W. Chain of Rocks Road in Granite City.
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Photos by Louise Jett
John Almstedt of Spanish Lake, Mo., shops during a comic book show May 15 at Bigfoot Comics & Collectibles. Almstedt was featured in the 2014 documentary “Spanish Lake.”
In this age of e-books and online shopping, brick-and-mortar comic book stores are almost as elusive as Bigfoot. But, if thumbing through comic books is a preferred pastime, the hunt is on at Bigfoot Comics & Collectibles.
The immense store, on Old Route 66 at 3121 W. Chain of Rocks Road in Granite City, also carries coins, pop culture memorabilia, toys, curious oddities, posters, collector cards and more.
For co-owner Asia Gryglewicz, the business is more about the people than the comics and collectibles on her shelves.
“It is fun to work with people who love comics,” she said. “They are different in a good way. They are unbelievable. They’re real, and there is so much connection. People bond over comics. I find there is a special connection here unlike at other businesses.”
Her partner and co-owner John Chaffee, who has been collecting comics since the age of 8, inspired Gryglewicz to open the store. The two met in 2001 when Chaffee sold Gryglewicz a car.
“I had a nice life, with a clean house before that,” she joked. “They don’t make guys like him anymore. I’m the one who wears the pants in this family, but he puts up with me.”
The couple had been selling items from a booth in the Historic Route 66 Flea Market, next door to Bigfoot Comics & Collectibles, for three years before deciding to open their own doors a little more than a year ago.
“Asia was the last person in the world I thought would help me with this, but here we are,” Chaffee said. “We saw this nice facility, and the rent is affordable.”
“I love the community; we are surrounded by good people,” Gryglewicz said. “I feel comfortable, and everyone has a huge heart. It is not how you look or talk, it is what you have inside.”
And Bigfoot Comics & Collectibles has a lot on the inside. The massive inventory is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chaffee’s collection. He said he still has 1.5 million comics to go through, and he hopes to carry new comics, soon.
“It’s a store I would want to spend time in and go to,” Chaffee said. “I just really enjoy comics, especially horror and science fiction. I bought every horror comic I could get my hands on.”
The store attracts other comic book peddlers and enthusiasts during its comic book shows. The first show, in the fall of 2015, attracted more than 200 people. The remaining 2016 shows are set for Aug. 28, Oct. 23 and Dec. 4.
John Almstedt of Spanish Lake, Mo., is one of the couple’s first customers. For four years, he’s been buying comics and collectibles from the pair. He particularly likes hot rod comics.
“I also come to see them,” Almstedt said. “Asia is very interesting. She still makes me laugh and surprises me. This is always a friendly place, and she always has a smile on her face. We are all family.”
Store hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment. To learn more, follow Bigfoot Comics & Collectibles on Facebook or call (618) 406-4364.