The Local: Freaks and Geeks, the “YMCA for nerds”
You know when you just meet some people and your geeky sense just goes all tingly? That’s how I felt meeting the owners, Beth Baalman and Alec Featherstone, of Denton’s newest geek haven Freaks and Geeks. Seriously, I live in the best town, y’all. I mean if you can get past the redness and…hubris of Texas, we’ve really got some seriously awesome and geeky stuff.
Freaks and Geeks isn’t just a comic book store – they specialize in games, comics, and toys, particularly of the vintage and retro variety. I met Beth and Alec at Viva Dallas Burlesque’s DC vs. Marvel show and was invited to their soft opening last Friday.
Freaks and Geeks began a few years ago as geek game business. Beth more recently joined on as the comics person. Alec and Beth’s earliest business adventures consisted of conventions, but they recently decided to make the jump to a permanent location. This is their first business owning venture together, but Alec considers their relative inexperience and youth a great reason to just go for it. They decided to settle down in Denton because it’s awesome. Okay, fine, fine, I am biased. Here, I will list the reasons why it’s awesome:
- Denton is a small, college town, home to the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, so lots of cool intellectuals and nerds running around. UNT even hosts an annual comic studies conference. (And, I will be hosting the women in comics panel this year. More info to come.)
- Denton has frequently made various “best small towns in America” lists.
- We have really good food.
- Our music scene. Seriously. We were named “best music scene” by Paste in 2008. We are the home of 35 Denton, a three day music festival featuring all kinds of stellar bands. I saw The Flaming Lips perform a free show here in 2010. We are also home to Sarah Jaffe and Grammy winners Brave Combo.
- We are crazy about supporting local businesses.
- Denton has often been compared to Austin, TX, which we sometimes take offense to because we aren’t Austin, dammit. But, Austin is pretty damn cool.
- We are home to this fine establishment where Kelly Sue DeConnick has dropped in to sign comics.
- Denton is featured in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Okay, fine, it may not be Denton, TX, but we claim it anyway because hubris.)
Located in an almost-historic home (it’s about four years away from historic status), Freaks and Geeks contains all the original floors and windows and the delightfully wacky electrical wiring that comes with historic homes. But the coolest thing: Freaks and Geeks’ location is ADA friendly. One of their earliest customers, a four-year old comic book fan with multiple sclerosis, got to finally explore a comic book store for the first time because her motorized chair can easily maneuver through the building. In honor of her visit, Alec and Beth bequeathed her with an issue of Ms. Marvel #1.
Freaks and Geeks features a range of vintage and retro gaming items, comics, and toys. Alec and Beth seek out garage sells, estate sells, the internet, and more to find vintage items that geeks love. It’s not uncommon for them to stumble across a box of comics containing rare first issues including the first appearance of The Vision from the X-men. (Beth is already keeping an eye out on Red Sonja comics for me!) One of their first customers, a game collector from Dallas, came in with a list and spent over seven hundred bucks on vintage and retro video game items; a thrilling start for a new business venture from two geeks. And pretty soon, they will start carrying current comics. Beth is dedicated to getting indie comics and the less superhero dominated comics on the shelves, though of course DC and Marvel will still have their place.
But, Freaks and Geeks won’t just be selling really cool geek stuff. They want to build a community, which shouldn’t be too hard to do in Denton. (Again, see the above list.) Alec and Beth have big and exciting plans: twenty-four hour sponsored gaming marathons, Harry Potter themed events (Alec plans to go as the Sorting Hat or Dobby. I really want to go as Buckbeak), horror movie nights, host writers and artists, and a whole hell of a lot more. Alec summed it up as this: He wants Freaks and Geeks to become “a YMCA for nerds.”
Their grand opening is this weekend (January 16-18), and they are hosting a ton of exciting events and sales in celebration:
Friday (1/16): 8pm Super Smash Bros, Wii U tournament
Saturday (1/17): 6pm Cosplay Contest; Saturday will also feature special guests: voice actors Jeremy Inman (Android 16 – Dragon Ball Z, Taurus- Fairy Tail) and Heather Walker (Mary Hughes- Fairy Tail, Aki – Maken-Ki, Hiruko – Shangri-La).
Sunday (1/18): For every hour open Freaks and Geeks is raffling off a long box of comics! Approximately 250-350 comics per box.
Friday (1/16): 10% off all video games
Saturday (1/17): Buy two toys get one loose toy free
Sunday (1/18): Buy three get one free on all comics
I hope, if you are in the area, that I will see you there! Find me in the pink wig, asking lots of questions. And not to worry if you aren’t local — once they get settled in to their permanent location, Freaks and Geeks will also be going online. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.