The city of Turlock has spent years without a comic book shop, leaving many collectors and enthusiasts with limited options. Luckily for the community, two friends have combined forces to create Turlock Comics.
Turlock Comics, located on 2717 Geer Road, is owned and operated by Joey Aiello and Kyle Turner, who opened the shop on June 4. The two veterans decided to take the risk of opening the shop after bonding over the hobby amongst other aspects of their lives. Not only did they enjoy comic books and card games, but they each had experience in the military and took their daughters to the same gymnastics classes.
“Our families have gotten along pretty well,” said Aiello. “We each have four daughters and they do gymnastics together, so we hung out a lot… Being in the military, we both have those stories and experiences that we can relate to that not many other people can.”
Aiello served in the Marines and Turner served in the Army, and like their branches, they each specialized in their own things as it relates to collectbles. Aiello explained that he has collected comic books since he was six years of age, with his favorite character and series being the Hulk. Meanwhile, Turner has had a huge passion for card games like Magic the Gathering.
“There are so many different communities and groups out there, with both of us here we feel like our inventory is pretty wide,” Turner said.
Walking into the shop, customers are met with two long walls on each side of the space filled with comic books. Some of the comic books are rare, graded treasures while others are modern and more common copies. There are also multiple showcases packed with cards from sets like Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic the Gathering and more. Placed around the shop, there are also tons of action figures and Funko Pops. There is also no shortage of high-end memorabilia on the walls of the shop, stemming from custom made helmets to autographed movie props.
“We want this place to be somewhere people can come to, look at all the stuff and hang out,” Aiello said. “Sometimes we have guys come in here and hang out for hours just talking about the latest releases or showing off their newest pickups.”
Even though the shelves are heavily stocked with eye-catching collectibles, it was not always the case when they first opened.
“There came a point when we were still painting and setting up that we were really feeling that pressure that we needed to finally open up since the bills were starting to rack up,” Aiello said. “We only had some pieces from our personal collections, and only about half of the walls were full.”
Even with the limited supplies at the beginning, the two explained that products were instantly flying off the shelves, something that has not slowed down since.
“Even with as much stuff that we have now, we are still always buying and restocking. The demand has been pretty insane,” Turner said.
Aiello believes that the high demand and popularity of the shop thus far is for several reasons.
“The main thing is that Turlock hasn’t really had a shop like this for a while. The closest places for people to go get their comics is Modesto, and many people don’t want to make that drive all the time,” he said.
Turner added the fact that comics and collectibles are simply popular, citing that many cities, including small towns, have multiple shops.
“This isn’t the largest of spaces, and at times we’ve had over 20 people in here searching through comics, talking to each other, looking through the Pops, doing just about everything,” Aiello said. “The fact that we’ve been so popular is awesome. And we know that some of these other shops haven’t had this success, so it goes to show that we’re establishing ourselves as a really fun and trustworthy place.”
One of the most notable customers that have come into the shop is MMA and UFC superstar Nick Diaz. The legendary fighter walked in unannounced last month and conversated with customers, discussing everything from his career to pop culture, taking photos with all who asked.
“I was genuinely star-struck when Nick Diaz came in. The most surprising part was just how cool he was hanging out and talking with everyone,” Aiello said. “From lifelong collectors to people just curious about the hobby, we’ve had people from all walks of life come in. People from all ages and all personalities come in looking for certain Funko Pops and comics, it’s been really eye-opening to see just how large these communities are.”
Not only is it surprising to see how huge the community is, but to see how passionate people are is also cool to see,” Aiello said.
The passion is most evident in the gaming area in the back of their shop. Turlock Comics plays host to several tournaments for a variety of card games.
“We don’t have the biggest prizes or the biggest stakes, and we like it that way,” Aiello said. “We want to give back to our small community here in Turlock, and even with it being small events, we still have that same amount of fun and excitement as any other larger places wuld have.”
Aiello and Turner encouraged everybody to follow the shop on social media sites for the latest updates on tournaments and new inventory. Their Instagram handle is @Turlock_Comics while you can find them on Facebook at @TurlockComics.
“We’ve grown so much in such a short amount of time, we’re crushing all of our goals since we came together and started this,” Turner said. “It’s been amazing so far and we just hope that people can come in, have a good time and want to come by again.”
Turlock Comics is open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.