Tate’s is marvel
By John Tanasychuk
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
September 12, 2009
If you should happen to find yourself at Tate’s Comics in Lauderhill, take a look at the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer award that now sits in a place of prominence near the checkout.
It’s the biggest prize in comic book retailing. “It’s like winning the best director Academy Award,” says owner Tate Ottati.
The Eisner, as insiders call it, is given annually by Comic-Con International to the best comic store in the world. You read that correctly. The world! At the recent Comic-Con 2009, Tate’s bested 16 other stores, including semifinalists from Israel and Canada.
Ottati and wife Amanda Magnetta-Ottati won after being judged on the variety of materials they carry, their depth of knowledge, the quality of their merchandising and their community activity.
On any given day, Tate’s is hosting an author signing, offering a free tasting of Japanese snack foods or exhibiting the work of local artists in the area of the store they call the Bear and Bird Boutique & Gallery. Right now, the gallery is showing work by tattoo artists.
“We’ve tried to make it a destination place,” says Ottati “where there’s always something cool going on.”
Most people think of Tate’s as a kind of pop-culture superstore. It will always be the place for the serious collector to find the more than 70 comics released every Wednesday. Comic books make up more than one third of the store. But you can also buy graphic novels, Japanese animation DVDs and Star Wars figurines. There are close to 1 million items in the store.
Ottati, 33, opened in 1993 when he was a 17-year-old senior at Deerfield Beach High School. He opened at 3 p.m. when school let out. His father, Tony Ottati, a retired industrial arts teacher who now works at the store, had to sign the lease. The young Ottati used money made from investing in Marvel comics stock as part of a high school economics class. Marvel went bankrupt shortly thereafter.
From 800 square feet in 1993, Tate’s now takes up 8,800 square feet. That includes a separate 2,000-square-foot Gaming Satellite where, even on a Thursday afternoon, there are a half-dozen guys playing the collectible card game called Magic.
Back in the main store, manager JoAnn Minieri is giving a tour on roller skates. She wears the skates as a matter of efficiency. Like most of the store’s 16 employees, she reads 40 comic books every week. And like most comic books fans, she’d never consider a mail subscription, preferring to buy them off the shelf. When comic books go through the mail, they get folded in half.
While Ottati says there are more than a dozen other comic book stores in the tri-county area, Tate’s is by far the largest. And its size may be what has helped it weather the recession.
“We’ve been off,” he says. “But we’re so diverse, we’re able to experiment a little more.”
John Tanasychuk can be reached at jtanasychuk@SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4632.
Copyright © 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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