CARROLL GARDENS – Brooklyn kids who love comic books have a new place to hang out and get creative without parents lurking around, in the form of a new comic shop called loot.
Joe Einhorn, the founder of the online retailer Fancy and a lifelong comic book enthusiast, opened loot on July 1, and business has been gradually picking up the pace, with word of mouth bringing neighborhood kids into the store. The store, located above Frank’s Wine Bar at 465 Court Street (and Luquer Street), is lined with Einhorn’s vast collection of comics, with those adorning the wall not for sale and those in stacks available for purchase.
Einhorn, a Manhattan native who has lived in Brooklyn for thirteen years, where he is raising his three sons, credits comics with making him the person he is today.
“I grew up loving comics,” Einhorn said in an interview with Bklyner. “And comics were sort of a gateway for me into creativity and ultimately entrepreneurship.”
Einhorn, who no longer works at Fancy, described loot not as a venture pursuing profit, but the fulfillment of a dream based on a lifelong interest.
“The idea was just to take my learnings from the high tech world and then combine it with the nostalgia, my personal love for comics, and the impact that I think comics have had on popular culture in general,” Einhorn said.
The store differs from a traditional comic book shop in several key respects. Every one of the 3,000 comics in the shop—which are all from Einhorn’s personal collection but will soon be expanded upon from outside donations—costs $5 to purchase.
Alternatively, fans can pay $30 per month to rent an unlimited number of comics; while comic fans could still go to the library to read comics for free, Einhorn claims that loot has a much larger selection owing to its singular focus on comics.
At that point, after a kid reads a certain number of comics, they can earn “loot,” essentially store credit that can count towards paying for a subscription. Kids can also earn loot by producing their own comics at the store, which the shop will then sell with 90 percent of proceeds going to the creator. Einhorn said that while loot is not a cryptocurrency and is currently a low-tech incentive program, he would be open to outside partnerships and having loot be used in other establishments.
The goal, he told Bklyner, was to emulate the payment and incentive structures that make online games like Fortnite so compelling, but to channel those incentives into a more productive, intellectually stimulating medium.
The store will begin offering classes in comic production in August. Einhorn aims to create an environment in the classes emphasizing collaboration, with different students leveraging their individual talents or passions—such as storytelling, writing, or drawing —into producing comics.
“Our biggest hope with regard to the classes is to spur collaboration, and ultimately help create some friendships,” Einhorn said.
The friendships will only be between kids, however. Einhorn decided to spurn the massive and still-growing adult comic fanbase in favor of reaching kids who may not have grown up reading them. While children are free to walk into the store, either alone or with an adult guardian, adults who wish to visit loot alone are required to make an appointment in advance by sending a direct message to @loot on Instagram.
“Our focus is to be an onramp into the world of comics for kids,” Einhorn said, noting that playgrounds often display signs such as, “No adults without kids.”
Loot will also probably not be showcasing at New York Comic Con in October. “We’re not looking to make a big splash in any industry,” Einhorn said. “We’re literally just trying to put together a place our friends and families would want their kids to spend some time. We’ll leave Comic Con to the pros.”
465 Court Street (at Luquer), Carroll Gardens
Hours: 10am to 6pm daily (for kids and any adults who accompany them)