Customers run Ladner, B.C., comic shop after owner injured in serious car accident
Friends and fans of Dave Strutt's store vow to keep it open during busy holiday season
When the regulars at Dave's Pop Culture in Ladner, B.C., heard that Dave Strutt — the store's owner and only employee — had been in a head-on collision with a semi truck last month, there was only one place to go.
"We just went to the store," said Jonathan Kinney, a longtime customer and friend of Strutt's. "A couple of us actually had keys."
"We decided from that point on that we were just going to keep it open."
What started as a group of five or six quickly grew to a roster of almost 40, all volunteering their time to do everything from day-to-day store operation to ordering and supply runs.
More than just a store
A Ladner institution, Dave's Pop Culture sells comics, trading cards, board games and more, and also hosts regular game nights.
On Sunday, Kinney and the store's interim staff held an afternoon of charity gaming to raise money for Strutt and his two daughters. Donations are also being collected for Deltassist.
The game of choice was DC Comics' Deck-Building Game, a favourite of Strutt's — and there's already talk of making it an annual event.
"Hopefully next time we do it it'll be a fundraiser for another charity that we can give to," Kinney said.
A community hub
Strutt still has a long road to recovery. His injuries include a broken hip, compressed ribs, severe lacerations and an arm broken in four places.
But Kinney and his crew are committed to keeping the shop open for as long as Strutt is out commission. To them, it's more than just a shop — it's the focal point of an entire community.
"[Strutt] has quite a few customers that started off maybe as seven- or eight-year-olds who have now grown up, and even ones who are teenagers and are now in university who still come back and play whenever they're in town," Kinney said.
"He makes sure everybody is included. Everybody is his friend. It's really hard to describe, but he means so much to everybody."
Retail sales rush
From a business perspective, Strutt's accident couldn't have come at a worse time. The holiday shopping rush is huge for retail-based businesses like Dave's Pop Culture; Kinney estimates Strutt makes as much as 40 per cent of his annual sales in the month of December.
But Kinney says Strutt's regulars would have stepped in to help regardless of when the accident happened.
"It doesn't even matter whether it's the holiday period or anything," Kinney said. "We would do it for him."
With files from CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.