Gaming and comic shops have been around for years—the first comics shop, owned by Gary Arlington, was founded in 1967 and popular chain GameStop opened in the early 1980s. In recent years, the combined existence of both “gamer” and “comic book” communities has steadily become more prevalent. This niche market is more complex than most realize. Gaming today not only applies to video gaming but also to physical card games such as Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokémon. Comic story lines are often turned into games and vice versa. Chain stores miss a key market in mainly offering video gaming products without concern for comic or gaming-related products. Top Cut Comics sets itself apart by catering to gamers of all interests as well as alternative hobbyists that prefer Marvel and DC Comics, graphic novels and super hero toys. Gaming enthusiasts have the added benefit of affordable deck expansion options as Top Cut Comics buys, sells and trades used cards in addition to selling new.
Jimmy Ballard, owner of Top Cut Comics, was introduced to Pokémon in 2001 after a trip to Kay Bee Toys in North Riverside Mall with his children. Along with his kids, Jimmy began playing the game competitively and solidified 2nd place at the 2006 Pokémon Trading Card World Championships. A year later in 2007, Jimmy and his wife, Debbie, purchased Chicago’s Collect A Card N’ Comics, a store where he and his children often played Pokémon. After expanding their tournament area and their retail offerings, Jimmy and Debbie changed the business name to Top Cut Comics in 2011. Top Cut Comics is a full service shop, bringing in gamers of the Trading Card and miniature gaming variety while still catering to avid comic book lovers. The store does not focus solely on younger patrons, but instead caters to all gamers from ages 6 to 60.
Top Cut Comics utilizes every inch of space in the building well, breaking their store into three distinct sections: the retail shop, the video game room and the tournament room. Top Cut has dedicated employees ready to exceed customers’ expectations with their experience and knowledge of virtually any game, in addition to a treasure trove of merchandise. Their video game room is available for patrons to come to hang out and compete in weekly events, whether it’s in the evenings or on weekends. The tournament room is lined with tables and chairs where patrons can gather for a variety of tournaments, weekly events, casual gatherings or even rent out during the week for private events like birthday parties.
Since they have relocated to Berwyn, Top Cut Comics still gets customers from all over the Chicagoland area. “We’re a destination location, so we have customers from previous locations coming out to Berwyn to shop and game,” said Ballard. Top Cut Comics also holds a variety of tournaments for gamers and even gets involved in larger-scale conventions, such as Rosemont’s annual Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series and Ohana-Con, which will be held June 2-4 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The benefits of gaming extend beyond entertainment, and Ballard hopes show Top Cut Comics customers the benefits of learning card games, especially at a young age. “When you teach kids how to play card games, you’re teaching them skills like having good sportsmanship, strategic planning and even complex reading and math skills,” said Ballard. In the past, Top Cut Comics was involved with the local Boy Scouts troop, helping scouts learn these skills and earn their Collecting merit badge.
Top Cut Comics is in the process of completing a stand-out mural project that will capture the attention of those heading east on Ogden Ave. The Incredible Hulk was the first character to be finished on the mural, and Ballard plans to commission local artists to finish the job in the Spring.
“This is an awesome opportunity for us. I love what we do. I’m extremely passionate about providing kids with a place that gets them out of their home and teaches them to interact with others, while developing core values,” said Ballard.
“Part of what we do at the BDC is to help bring in businesses that are unique and that bring visitors into Berwyn. Top Cut Comics is one of those destinations,” commented BDC Board President Jousef Mondragon.
“I never would have envisioned a place like this. It is truly unique. The BDC and the City of Berwyn are here to help you with whatever your business needs. Good luck in Berwyn and welcome to the neighborhood,” said Mayor Robert Lovero.
About Top Cut Comics
For 20 years, Top Cut Comics (originally Collect A Card N’ Comics) has catered to gamers and comic aficionados through buying and selling a wide range of specialty products, as well as offering a space for video gaming and gaming tournaments. Located right off of Harlem and Ogden Ave, Top Cut Comics is open Monday through Sunday to patrons. For more information on Top Cut Comics, please visit www.topcutcomics.com , visit @topcutberwyn on Facebook or contact the store via email at email@example.com or via phone at 708-317-5589.