I was born in Staten Island, NY and have lived here most of my life. In 2011, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had spent almost my entire working life as a civil servant for the City of NY in the social services sector. After I had a hysterectomy, I returned to a job that I once loved but had turned into a political nightmare because of poor management and a terrible administration.
I decided that I did not want to waste another minute there. I could have gone out on medical leave and taken social security, but I didn’t because I have never taken anything that I did not think that I had earned. I took my life savings, mortgaged my home and with my soul mate opened a comic book and collectible store so that I could at least spend the rest of my life being surrounded by things and people that made me happy.
Hypno-Tronic Comics is a small comic book and collectible shop that I opened with the love of my life, Ed Varuolo. We wanted to create a place that was different from the large stores, with a local feel and unusual items. Our friend Artie owned a store called Krypton Comics in Midland beach, Staten Island and unfortunately, his store was wiped out by hurricane Sandy. When he decided not to reopen, we decided that we would fill the void.
Our biggest challenge right now is to get people in the door. We are located right across from the Staten Island Ferry with millions of tourist riding the boat a year. Unfortunately advertising is prohibitively expensive, but we are fortunate to have good reviews, good word of mouth and a constantly updated social media presence. We hope to someday expand and be able to hire local residents. Because of the influx of tourists, we are proud to offer many items such as paintings, sculptures and locally produced comics and books to showcase the wonderful talent that lives here in the Staten Island area of NYC.
Our expenses are pretty high. Although we are growing every day, we could use some extra financing to help us to pay off some high interest debt and to purchase inventory that we know will will sell well, but are unable to afford currently. Because we specialize in horror and scifi, there are t-shirts from wonderful novelty items from small manufacturers that we deal with that are not carried everywhere and are of particular interest to our customer base. One of the things that make our store special is the happy discovery of items that you didn’t know existed.