Famous Faces & Funnies is a locally owned Comic/Toy/Collectible store located at the corner of New Haven Avenue and Wickham Road in West Melbourne. We’ve been huge fans of them for years and have enjoyed watching them grow into one of if not the largest store of their kind in Central Florida. We caught up with owner Rick Shea for a fun question & answer session and here’s how it went!
Have you always been into comics?
I’ve been a comic book fan since the mid-1980s, and I’ve been selling comics now for over 30 years and loving every minute of it.
How many years has Famous Faces & Funnies been open?
Famous Faces opened on March 1, 1994, and we’re celebrating our 27th anniversary Monday March 1 with a giant online Facebook Live sale with all sorts of great items marked down to only $5 each. We’ll have hundreds of graphic novels, toys, Pops, blind boxes, and other great items at up to 80% off of retail value!
What made you decide to open a comic/toy/collectible store?
We were excited to share our passion and excitement for Comics and Toys with other like-minded individuals. We’re so glad to see so many more people are now familiar with these characters through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, cartoons, video games and other well received adaptations over the last few decades. Geek culture has become pop-culture and we couldn’t be happier to share these stories with a whole new audience!
What’s the hardest part of owning a comic/toy/collectible store?
We’re getting new shipments on an almost daily basis as well as juggling buying collections of comics or toys from local collectors. We’re working around the clock to make sure everyone gets what they want or hunting down that one rare item that they may be missing from their collection. It’s a lot more work than you could possibly imagine, but I still enjoy being here all the time and wouldn’t trade this job for anything. I still work too much, but the outstanding staff here has definitely made my life easier and taken a lot of the responsibilities off my plate so I can concentrate on ordering comics and hosting the auctions, as well as other growth areas for our store.
The best thing?
I enjoy almost everything about this job and I’m so thankful for all the incredible customers and all the relationships we’ve built with customers over the years and decades. Watching our customers get to know each other through our Geek Roundtable and other events has been one of my favorite things about this job. Watching friendships, relationships and even marriages happen between people that met at FFF is one of my favorite things out of the countless things I love about what I do.
One of the best parts about this job is there’s no corporate overlord or edict to push a product we don’t have faith in. We only order products we believe in and we will always give our honest opinion and a money back guarantee on any comic or graphic novel we recommend! We do our best to make sure our customers have a great time in our store and are happy with what they’re leaving with for a great price. Our staff goes above and beyond to run new items by customers if we think they might be interested as we get to know them and their tastes better.
Do you have any favorite comic book characters?
Batman, Deathstroke, Teen Titans and The Walking Dead. There’s literally a comic for everyone. If you tell us what your favorite TV shows or movies are, we can point you in the right direction towards a comic that might be just what you didn’t know you needed in your life.
Best guess, how many comics do you have in the store at any given time?
We have well over 200,000 back issues and overstock comics and we’re getting a few thousand new comics in every week from our distributors as well as buying comic collections several times a week.
What’s the most valuable comic/collectible you have in the store?
Honestly, we keep selling our highest priced comics so quickly this answer will be moot in a few days. We recently had a few copies of a $500 Amazing Spider-Man #300 with the first appearance of Venom, but we’ve also had some very low printed Star Wars comics with first appearances like Ahsoka and others that are also selling at $500 and over. We’ve had a few comics at one point that were worth thousands of dollars, but they never seem to last that long in the store before someone buys them!
How often do you get new products in?
At this point between our 10 Distributors, it feels like we get at least a small shipment everyday or almost everyday.
Finding fellow fans of comics probably isn’t difficult but finding great employees that love comics is something you’ve been able to do too. How long have some of your employees worked for you?
I really lucked out with the most amazing staff possible. Over the last few years, our staff has doubled in size as our store continues to grow. Jared and Shaun have each been here about a dozen years. Our recently promoted manager Leah has been here for seven years. James, Sam and Paul and have all been here over five years and they’ve all been a big part of our growth and success! Josh, Stephen and Nicole have really helped kick things into overdrive over the last few years!
You’ve done pretty well pivoting through 2020 with online sales and auctions. Do you see that continuing into the future?
Definitely. We started doing Facebook live sales in April 2018, so we were already two years into it before the pandemic forced us to rethink our strategy going forward as we’ve increased to six auctions a week. We’ve met lots of wonderful customers through our live sales and we’re excited to keep growing through that avenue as well as in store. We’re also doing a lot more eBay sales with our expanded staff than we have in the past. We may eventually cut out an auction or two per week as the day-to-day sales in store are keeping us super busy, but so far, our live sales have stayed really strong, so it’s a tough call.
You are also still offering delivery to local addresses? Do you see that continuing long term?
We will continue to offer free delivery (on orders of $30 or more) to the Melbourne and Palm Bay area every Friday for probably another six months or until things get back to normal.
Get Your Fun On joined you all in sharing a space quite a few years ago. Do you see that some customers come in for your stuff but end up wandering to their side and do you see some of their customers coming over to see what you have?
Of course. Customers from both sides have definitely checked out the other shop, and it’s worked out really well for both sides. We’re happy to be your one stop shop for anything fun and geeky. We’ve been able to introduce Role players to Comics about their favorite games as well as showing comic book fans there’s plenty of wonderful games based on their favorite characters!
What do you have new coming up for 2021?
We’re just hoping to get back to normal eventually as safely as possible. We are sincerely appreciative of all the support we’ve seen from our community, especially locally that had our sales slightly up for the year in 2020 even as we were voluntarily closed to the public for over eight months. We have been up by a strong percentage the last few months as we’ve been open 12 to 7 PM seven days a week, and we’re looking forward to building another long streak of positive growth. We will continue to do six themed Facebook live auctions a week and we’ll do our best to keep adding more product lines including comics, graphic novels toys, Pops, and more. We’re excited to safely go back to Broken Barrel Trivia, Cinemaworld movie premieres and comic conventions later this year. Hopefully we will see the return of the Melbourne Toy And Comic Con and Orlando Toy & Comic Con in late 2021!