San Diego Convention Center

Comic-Con Brings Back the Characters and the Spenders

Small business owners have come to rely on the Comic-Con's Black Friday effect

NBC Universal, Inc.

Wizards, superheroes, villains and… whatever that is.

They were all back at the San Diego Convention Center Friday for day one of Comic-Con’s Special Edition, a pandemic-delayed and pandemic-shortened version of the summer classic that usually attracts more than 100,000 people to San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

“It feels amazing. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a couple of years,” said Kelly Orazi, manager of the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, which has a booth on the convention floor.

“This is us. All the nerdy stuff. All of the things with magic and dragons and unicorns,” she smiled from behind a face mask.

Smaller, privately-owned vendors like Mysterious Galaxy have greatly depended on sales generated by Comic-Con visitors. It’s appropriate that Friday at Comic-Con’s Special Edition coincided with Black Friday across the country.

“It is extremely powerful. It has been a staple of our business,” said Orazi.

The pandemic was particularly unkind to small businesses that lost out on two full conventions in 2020 and 2021. Orazi said they relied heavily on online sales to stay afloat.

“It has been hard in some ways, but we have such an incredible, loyal customer base,” she explained.

That being said, Orazi was happy to be standing on the convention room floor again.

“A little relieved. A little excited.”

Comic-Con’s Special Edition is at the San Diego Convention Center through Sunday.

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