A Huntington Station comic book kingdom is hoping to rise again after an early morning strip mall fire on Wednesday destroyed the more than 30- year-old store.
The fire at Collectors Kingdom, a fixture in Huntington Station since 1982, sent items worth more than $500,000 up in smoke, said Mike Bradley, who since 1990 has owned the shop at 202 W. Jericho Tpke. in the West Hills Shopping Center.
The items included books from the 1950s' golden age of comics valued at $500 to $1,000 each, superhero statues, toys and memorabilia, he said.
"I had 33 years' worth of merchandise," Bradley said.
The fire started in the comics store, where the roof collapsed, fire officials said. Several other stores in the strip mall were also damaged.
Bradley said he lost everything because he had no insurance.
"Things got tight, and when things get tight you look for stupid avenues to cut," he said in an interview Thursday. "And unfortunately that was one of the things I cut."
The Suffolk County Police arson squad is investigating the fire, but "at this point it doesn't appear to be criminal," a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Bradley is scouting for a new location nearby and hoping a Kickstarter funding campaign scheduled to begin in a day or two will supply the financing.
"We're looking for people who will help aid us in getting going again," said Bradley, who employed about five people.
He bought the store in 1990, when it was called Collectors Comics, and renamed it.
Since that time he has seen comic book collecting morph from a teenage subculture pastime to one that crosses generations. Collectors today run the gamut from 14-year-old girls to 50-year-old guys, he said.
"I used to be able to tell when school let out," he said. "Today, I can tell when work's let out. It's a lot different dynamic."
Bradley was an accidental comic book collector. He started in his early 20s as a way to distract himself after a girlfriend went away to college.
"In the end, the comics long outlasted the relationship," he said.