From selling used books to becoming Arizona’s oldest comic book store, Marsha and Alan Giroux talk about All About Books and Comics humble start.
“We’re not millionaires, but we’re happy.” Said with a smile, Alan Giroux and his wife Marsha reminisce about the days they first opened All About Books and Comics 36 years ago. The small store is brimming at the seams with the faces of familiar superheroes and the best of the comic world villains. The walls are lined with row after row of the classics, the widest array of comics and graphic novels intertwined with character posters, apparel and more. The store holds a warm feeling of familiarity, and patrons are greeted by name as they filter in for their weekly visit.
Neither Marsha nor Alan were born in Arizona, in fact, Marsha was nearly 16 when her family moved from New York to Phoenix to start a new life in the valley of the sun. A mere 6 months after moving, she met Alan and, as she would say, the rest is history.
Alan was born in Illinois but spent much of his childhood moving between his hometown and Arizona, before finally deciding to settle down in Phoenix. Although he became a teacher after graduating from college, he was an avid reader and comic book enthusiast and never lost his love for the written word. He and Marsha were both passionate about books, stories, and tales that let their imagination travel the world without leaving their little home. So, when the opportunity to purchase a small used bookstore in central Phoenix presented itself, it wasn’t a hard decision. And from there, the oldest comic book store in the state of Arizona was born.
It’s All About Books…
36 years ago, selling used books was a modest but rewarding profession. Although Marsha and Alan focused their energy on selling paperback and hardcover books, Alan kept his love for comics in the back of his mind, dedicating a small section of the store to the animated stories. Over time, used book sales dwindled, curiously, comic books began to steal the spotlight. Marsha and Alan pursued this unexpected change with delight and passion, pouring their efforts into turning their store into a hub for comic books and merchandise. They suspected that within their local community, there was a deep-rooted love for comics, that people were looking for a way to reconnect with the beloved stories and characters from their childhood. And they were right.
Despite the challenges of starting and growing a small business, Marsha and Alan have thrived. It’s important to them to keep All About Books and Comics a place where people can freely let their imaginations take hold and create their own worlds. After all, that’s what comic books are all about. As the years go on, the community has evolved. Customers that came as children grew up, had their own kids and introduced them to the world of comics through the bookstore. Alan and Marsha have stayed true to their desire to make All About Books and Comics a place where all are welcome, all people, from all walks of life, from all corners of Arizona. Because of this dedication to their readers, both Marsha and Alan have developed relationships with their customers they can now call family.
Staying Around for the Long Haul
For Marsha and Alan, when asked which of the Arizona 5 C’s fit into their business, it was an easy answer. Community- their people, their patrons. Marsha’s eyes are bright with admiration as she speaks fondly about the people that come time and time again to the store, how she knows each person’s name and now, their children’s names. That kind of endearing longevity has solidified their love of the community and of their city. This sense of family within their store has also been their catalyst, pushing them to keep going year after year, keeping their passion alive. When asked which C they would add to the list, Marsha laughed and said, “Well, comics!”
Buying comics is not just about the purchase, it’s about the experience. The memories and the nostalgia resonates with people on an intimate level.
Alan’s love for his store is obvious as he talks about the irreplaceable need for brick and mortar stores. While most book sales have now moved online, comics are different. They are unique, in how they feel, how they look, how they smell. Buying comics is not just about the purchase, it’s about the experience. The memories and the nostalgia resonate with people on an intimate level. Nostalgia is something Alan and Marsha know a great deal about. They’ve had the privilege of spending the last 36 years watching the comic book community grow into a literary force of nature. We asked Alan and Marsha if they could summarize their Arizona experience and what it means to them. “Home is where the heart is,” Alan says simply. Arizona is full of community, generations of people that have settled here to raise their families, pursue careers, and create their own culture. Alan and Marsha have done just that with comic books and will continue to do so for as long as they can.
All About Books & Comics
24 W Camelback Rd G
Phoenix, AZ 85013 8501