Had a blast making family portraits for my good friends, Nate and Kelli, and their kiddos Sophie and Evan.
A lovely night in the park, a giant lollypop as an incentive, and fun family get-together.
Abandoned Lumber Yard – Jackson, Michigan
The good news, however, is that he may have found a buyer for the place. They have to get things worked out with the bank, but otherwise it’s a go.
That’s my friend Jon Hart in the background, there, digging through the alternative titles. I’m mainly a Spidey and X-Men guy, myself.
Head to downtown Jackson on the last Friday nights during the summer, and you’ll find Cruise Night.
And at Cruise Night, you’ll find some interesting characters who may or may not normally walk down the middle of Michigan Ave.
I remember first walking into Nostalgia, Ink. at 10 years old and feeling like I was discovering a whole new world.
Up to then, collecting comics was a catch-as-catch-can operation. I’d find a few titles at book stores, or at the pharmacy, and once in a while I’d see a classified ad of someone selling their collection.
But a whole store? Devoted to comics? Heaven.
From that time on, I’ve had an on-again, off-again comic habit. In the early days, I’d bike down West Washington Ave. in Jackson by myself once a month to get the latest issues. As an adult, I’d drive to the shop on Wednesdays to get the newest editions.
Then the editors of Amazing Spider-Man would piss me off with their latest bad idea, and I’d quit buying for a year or two. A habit’s a habit, however, and I’d always make my way back.
So a month ago I get my usual Superior Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men issues, and I notice a flyer on the counter: Leonard’s going out of business. He’s retiring.
I nearly cried.
I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. Through the comic bubble of the early ‘90s, through a Magic: The Gathering card collection, and now into adulthood.
Not for long.
Until Labor Day, everything’s on sale at increasingly-discounted rates. Back issues, books, everything.
Leonard says it’s time to retire. He’s been looking for a buyer, for a way out after almost 30 years. No one (as of yet) has come forward to take the business over. But there are a few things in the works.
For now, he wants to unload everything. Clear out the inventory.
And what an inventory. Miles and miles of long boxes. Bagged and boarded. Organized, roughly.
Not just comics, either. If you were into D&D, or Magic, or – hell – old issues of Playboy, Nostalgia was your place. Toys, shirts, posters, cards. Everything.
Hunting for the thing you wanted was half the fun. If Leonard didn’t have it, he could order it.
Lots of good memories in this place. Maybe someone will swoop in and help spirit Leonard away to retirement properly. Until then, we’ll help him clear out that inventory.
All the best, Leonard.
– – – –
View the full set on Flickr.
Read MLive’s coverage of the store’s closing.
(All color images edited with VSCO Film. Photos created with a rented Fuji X100. Many thanks to Leonard for allowing me all-access to the store.)
[I gave a shorter, punchier version of this essay at Jackson Magazine’s 30 And Under banquet, as a way to warn these ambitious young professionals what was in store for them. They probably already knew the second part, but the first part was 30 And Under wisdom after I was honored last year.]
There’s not much tackier than unasked for advice, so we’ll call these next two tid-bits “tips” instead of advice.
Tip one: whether anyone who is honored as a 30 And Under winner likes it or not, you’re going to become a celebrity in Jackson. The picture and profile will show up in the magazine and you’ll have strangers on the street saying “congratulations!” It happens. And grandma and grandpa and that guy you owe money to will all call and say they saw you in Jackson Magazine.
It’s a heavy burden, those first few months after winning. You’ll be famous to a group of people who have a very local sense of fame. You’re now in a select group of people that will probably make appearances on JTV or United Way billboards.
And in case you weren’t busy enough now, you’ll have community groups and committees asking for your help for their next big project. Jackson needs help, so being an up-and-coming hotshot means groups are pointing their volunteer laser beam right at you. Be prepared.
Tip two: listen for what people say about Jackson, especially when they pipe up about an idea, project, or event being “too good” for this town.
I heard it even before I was honored, but now I pay more attention. Too often, someone will claim an idea will never go over, never be attended, never be supported – because Jackson just isn’t that classy of a town.
Don’t think about that wild project you want to tackle, because it’s too good of an idea. And don’t even attempt to tackle some barrier in town, because they’ve been there and tried that and it doesn’t work around here.
Jackson has a crisis of confidence – a low self-esteem that rates somewhere between Chelsea and Hillsdale. Maybe it’s too much bad news in the past generation, or maybe it’s something in the water. Whatever. It’s very real.
It’s also true that good ideas have died on the vine in this town. But I’d rather have too many good ideas than a hum-drum philosophy that accept mediocrity and doesn’t break a sweat.
So don’t settle. Don’t let “good enough” be good enough, or think that something exciting is too exciting for Jackson.
I often think about AKA Sushi, the little boutique eatery up by Starbucks on West Ave. A business owner could have played it safe and threw in another McDonald’s, or Tim Horton’s, and offer another chain restaurant. Those are good enough for Jackson. Anything fancier would never make it, right?
Instead, there’s a hip sushi joint that draws a crowd on a Friday night. Not settling has been good for business.
Jackson’s chapter of the American Red Cross took a chance on a pop-up art gallery. With real art! And people had to pay to get in! The result was a smash success. The RED committee didn’t settle.
But many of my 30 And Under compatriots understand this already. They don’t go to work and go home and flip on the TV, day in and day out. They don’t settle for a life lived as usual – if they did, they wouldn’t be honored by Jackson Magazine.
The way we make Jackson raise its chin is by doing what we’re doing: not settling. Experimenting. Taking chances.
It’s tough, and it draws attention to your efforts, but the payoffs are pretty cool.