PEKIN - Spiderman, Batman, Deadpool, Captain America and the Peoria Ghostbusters descended on Derby Street in Pekin Saturday. The mission for which they assembled was not to foil an evil mastermind’s plot for world domination, or to divert an asteroid from its collision course with Earth.
Sometimes, a hero can save the day by promoting a new local store’s grand opening. Appropriately enough, the new business — located at 718 Debry St., Pekin — was Heroes Haven Comics, which is largely devoted to merchandise that immortalizes various heroes’ exploits.
“Heroes Haven should be a great business,” said James Brija of Creve Coeur, a member of the Peoria Ghostbusters. “We came to see it open because, in addition to raising money for local charities, our organization makes appearances to support new businesses in the area. This store has a lot of vintage collectibles, and some of them might be haunted. We’re here to make sure this grand opening stays ghost-free.”
In addition to securing appearances from various costumed crusaders and offering customers a chance to pose with them for photographs, Heroes Haven held drawings throughout the day for prizes including action figures, backpacks and an AMX Junior Roadmaster bicycle.
Store owner Steve Hutton, a collector of toys, said he opened Heroes Haven at least partly to sell items from his own collection.
“I have a six-car garage that is chock-full of collectibles,” said Hutton. “I didn’t want to end up on the TV show ‘Hoarders.’ So I decided to make some of my toys part of the inventory of a new store. I know other collectors who also wanted to sell some of their action figures and comics. I’d say that about 70 percent of our inventory came from those collections.”
Hutton believes that Derby Street is an advantageous location for his store because a busy street means a heavy volume of daily traffic. High traffic means more potential customers. However, he is concerned that the building may not be large enough to accommodate his rapidly-growing inventory.
“We’re either going to have to look for some place larger or expand this site,” Hutton said. “We’re already starting to outgrow this location as it is.”
Heroes Haven holds appeal not only for children who are interested in toys and comics, Hutton believes, but for adults who want to indulge nostalgic impulses.
“For a lot of people, it’s fun to relive the past,” said Hutton. “They can come in here and say, ‘I remember when I collected Dukes of Hazzard stuff’ or ‘I used to collect My Little Pony.’ Maybe they’ll decide to start collecting again and pass the stuff on to their kids or grandkids.”
“This is an amazing store,” said customer Austin Wagner of Morton, 9. “There are so many comics to choose from, I just wish I had more money so I could buy more of them. I’m going to New York next month, and we won’t be able to use computers on the flight. I’ll have comics to read, and I like comics better than technology.”
Heroes Haven business hours are 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The store is closed on Thursdays and Sundays.