I received news earlier today from Newport News based illustrator Wade Mickley that MacGuffin: The Graphic Novel Bookshop, the amazing…uh, well… graphic novel bookshop–also in Newport News–is now closed. You can find my post from this holiday season about the store here, along with Wade’s comment from today.
While I’m saddened by this news (which I’m assuming is true, although obviously I’m just going on this one comment) because it means that a really great comics shop has closed, I find myself attaching a greater significance to this because MacGuffin–despite its 5 hour distance from me–represented a sort of “litmus test” of the idea that there really was an audience of “civilians” out there who could sustain a retail store specializing in graphic novels of interest to the same sort of general readership that sustains, for example, one’s local Borders store, as opposed to the specialized collector/fanboy clientele that supports the typical comic book store. Its location in the Hampton Roads area, as opposed to some more hipster-prone area like New York, Seattle or Portland, further upped the ante on this experiment by situating this “test” in a medium-sized region in which such a store’s success might have been a positive indicator for those of us living somewhat less metropolitan areas.
Before I read too much into this, though, obviously I must point out that there’s any number of reasons that a retail shop might close its doors, only one of which is that the business was unprofitable because of lack of consumer demand. According to Wade in his comments, the only reason given so far for the closing of the shop is that it was, according to the owner, “[due] to events beyond his control.” Sam Hobart, MacGuffin’s owner, is an occasional blogger, so keep a watch on the store’s site, linked above, for details.
If the store is, in fact, closed, it will be missd sorely–and it’s a testament to the establishment that such a sentiment comes from someone who lives five hours from the store and has been there once.