Editor's note: Muncie Origins is a Ball State Daily News series profiling various businesses that originated in Muncie.
Located in a hidden back corner of White River Plaza, Bob’s Comic Castle can be considered one of Muncie’s hidden treasures.
In his store full of boxes filled to the brim with comic books, 52-year-old owner Trent Reeder sits behind the store’s counter eager to answer any questions with his never-ending knowledge of comic books, from the Golden Age of comic books to what he calls “the mess of Marvel Comics.”
Reeder said his interest in comic books began when he was in elementary school. Reeder would read his friends comics, and soon, he began joining his friends in their visits to the local comic book store. Eventually, him and his friends began collecting comic books together. Other than a brief break in middle school, Reeder said he has been collecting comic books ever since.
In 1991, Reeder met his former co-owner, Bob Ford, after the comic book store Reeder had been working at went out of business. Ford, who had been working in the same building, spoke to Reeder about an opportunity to open a new comic book store.
“He talked to me and said, ‘You know how to run the store; I know the numbers,’” Reeder said. “So we opened up a new store and named it Bob’s Comic Castle.”
A few years later, Ford had to sell Bob’s Comic Castle because he suffered from Alzheimer’s. In 1994, Reeder took over the store completely and has been running it alone ever since.
Reeder said Bob’s Comic Castle’s business was booming throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s, but since then, business has died down.
“A lot of it has to do with the way people are reading comics now,” Reeder said. “Everyone is going digital nowadays, and it doesn’t help that the comic book industry isn’t doing well.”
Sometimes barely “breaking even” with expenses, Reeder said he has had to “dip” into his own savings to keep the business open.
“I don’t know what I would do if I left the store,” Reeder said. “This is all I have done since I graduated college.”
As one of few comic book stores in the Muncie area, Reeder said he still has quite a few regular customers. Some customers come once a week or every two weeks. Some come only once a year.
“You never know what kind of day you are going to have,” Reeder said.
David Barnette, the owner of the Wizard’s Keep Game & Hobby, said he was a former customer of Reeder’s before the Wizard Keep moved into White River Plaza.
“[Reeder] has great customer service,” Barnette said. “He just loves what he does.”
Whenever Barnette walked into Bob’s Comic Castle, he said he was a fan of the relaxed feeling of the comic book store.
“You don’t go hang out at Walmart and talk about if Spider-Man or Batman is better,” Barnette said. “You go to a comic book store to meet like-minded people.”
Contact Jack Hart with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.