Bob’s Bullpen expanding in downtown Alpena

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Bob’s Bullpen Owner Bob LeFevre prepares a box of comic books for a customer on Friday at the store. LeFevre is in the process of expanding his services to include art classes, a lounge and a room where card and video game tournaments will be held. He expects the new addition of the store to be open in September.

A popular comic store in downtown Alpena is in the process of expanding and, once the renovations are complete, it will offer new leisure and educational opportunities.

Bob’s Bullpen opened in 2015 and has grown enough that owner Bob LeFevre wants to take the store to another level. He said several new and exciting things will be available when the expansion is complete in September.

LeFevre, who is a professional artist, will be offering art classes and there will also be a lounge opened where people can come in, order a bite to eat and read their books. He said there is also going to be a room where there will be Magic: The Gathering tournaments. Magic is a popular trading card game. There will also be video game tournaments and the expansion will provide a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere for customers, LeFavre said.

LeFavre said the success of the store didn’t really surprise him, because there isn’t another comic book store for many miles. He said the support of area communities has made the growth possible, allowing him to add things he originally was unable to.

“Some of the things I’m going to be doing have always been a part of my vision, but I just didn’t have enough space to fulfill those ideas,” he said. “Then, when the space next to me opened up, it allowed me to do them. It also allows me to flesh out of those ideas even more and possibly do more later.”

Bob’s Bullpen opened as superhero flicks were becoming popular and a host of new Star Wars movies were on the verge of being released.

He said those films may have helped is business some, but people who enjoy comic books are going to purchase them regardless of what is on at the theater.

“I don’t think it impacted my sales a whole lot, but I think there was a benefit from them,” he said. “It hasn’t hurt because when those movies come out, it is like a summer-long commercial for the store.”

Since the store opened, LeFevre has often held promotions during the release of some of the movies. He said he’s given away free comic books and also organized parades where people wear costumes of their favorite hero and march through town.

Such community engagement has helped the store flourish and LeFevre said he will continue to stay engaged with the public moving forward.

“Being involved in the community does more than just let people know we’re here and for me there is a bigger reason we’re as engaging as we are,” he said. “Reading has always been a big part of my childhood and it made my life so much better. If I can give that back to people, it’s priceless to me.”

He said pricing for the art classes and other activities will be released just prior to the September opening of the expanded store.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.