HEROES AREN'T HARD TO FIND is one of the largest and most well-known comics retailers in the country. We carry a complete line of new comics, graphic novels, and manga; as well as back issues, Silver and Golden Age comics, statues, specialty items, and our own line of comics collecting supplies. Located in the heart of the historic Elizabeth neighborhood near uptown Charlotte, we work hard to foster a family-friendly atmosphere, while carrying an incredible diverse line of comics from every genre.
Heroes was started in 1980 by a then 26-year-old Shelton Drum, who had been selling comics at area flea markets for the last several years. A comic collector since childhood, Shelton began aggressively hunting out his favorite issues during the mid-60's, after noticing that Amazing Spider-Man #1 was selling for the then-unbelievable price of ten dollars. "I knew right away that something was up, that these books were going to be worth money someday." Perhaps a tad more motivated than the average ten-year-old, young Shelton immediately began purchasing three of every Marvel comic being published, using the extras to trade for holes in his collection. By 1968, Shelton was buying out the entire comic stock of Newton's City Pharmacy each month; and by the early 70's he was setting up once a month at the Metrolina Flea Market, where he built a regular clientele of return customers.
In 1980 Shelton rented the space that would become Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, near the corner of Central & Pecan Avenue; as much to find a place to store his ever-growing collection as to sell anything. But within a few months, Heroes Aren't Hard To Find--the name adapted from a Fleetwood Mac song title--was open 6 days a week and doing a brisk business. The store also provided a place for Shelton to market his line of comic collecting supplies, which he had begun having custom-made to his specs back in the 70's. Soon the store had moved a block over to Thomas Avenue, with nearly a third of the interior devoted to warehousing comics and supplies.
In 1982 Shelton graduated from mini-cons to the big leagues with the launching of Heroes Convention--more on that elsewhere--and in 1983 opened a second Heroes Aren't Hard To Find in Winston-Salem. Just a year later, he opened a third store, this time in South Carolina--at one time or another, Shelton has owned stores in Chapel Hill, NC; Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, Florida and a second Charlotte store in the then-new Carmel Commons shopping center. Stormy times were ahead, however: in the mid-90's, the comics industry suffered its "crash", brought on largely by rampant speculation, inflated print runs, and a preponderance of comics featuring special covers and "collector's item" events. Fans turned in droves from an industry that seemed more concerned with "FIRST ISSUE SPECTACULAR!"s than with story or continuity. Comic book stores were going out of business all over the country, and against his will Shelton was forced to begin pulling in his resources, selling his stores one by one. Fortunately he was able to leave most of them in the hands of conscientious buyers who carried on with the same level of quality their customers had come to expect.
Of course, it would be a depressing story if Shelton didn't win in the end. In February of 2002, Shelton moved his Central Avenue store into its present location in the Elizabeth neighborhood. "Upfitting the space cost an embarassing amount," Shelton says. "It was just months after 9/11, and all signs pointed to a real tough time for small businesses. But I just felt that I had to be proactive and put my absolute best foot forward." And so he did, completely renovating the entire space, located on 7th Street next to Starbuck's coffee. With an open layout, track lighting, unified fixtures and showcases throughout the store, Heroes has become famous as one of the most attractive comic stores in the country. Much comment is made about the pair of larger-than-life statues of Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus fighting over the front of the store, especially Doc Ock, whose arms double as electrical conduits, bringing power to the register, computers, and sound system.
All in all, the tiny little store Shelton Drum opened in 1980 has grown up into one of the most talked-about comics shops in the country. "It has been worth every penny and every drop of sweat to build this store over the years," insists Shelton. "Every time I see a little kid's eyes light up when they walk in and see Spidey and Doc Ock slugging in out across the ceiling, or parents reading with their kids, or even an older reader re-discovering comics, I know that all my work is paying off in spades now."