Tate Ottati didn’t know it at the time, but a $148 investment would one day be the cornerstone of a business he would open. The investment was the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the first collectible comic book he ever bought.
Now, nearly 49,000 comics and eight years later, Ottati, 17, has opened his own business, Tate’s Comics.
“When I bought that first comic and then so many others, I decided then that I wanted to kick back, relax, and sell books,” Ottati said. “This is great, owning my own business and doing what I love to do. I really enjoy this.”
However, a 17-year-old business owner faces a few disadvantages. Ottati said. He is a senior at Deerfield Beach High School, and, until the comic shop breaks out of the read, he also has a part time job bagging groceries.
Ottati said he has to deal with people who look at young business owners with skepticism. There was the insurance agent who only wanted to deal with Ottati’s dad, and he gets funny looks when he offers top-dollar prices at big comic conventions.
“I guess they’re not used to dealing with 17-year-olds,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me. I understand. There aren’t many people as young as I am with their own businesses.”
The business already bustles with customers. One young customer asks about Marvel Series-3 trading cards. Two others admire the vintage Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Star Trek giant-sized action figure toys.
Joan Philippson, enjoys a packet of Ken Kelley art cards. “I love this shop, this is great,” said Philippson, who collects several types of cards. “They have a large selection of cards here. I’ve been coming since it opened.”
Ottati’s initial investment — the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — today is worth about $325.
“If someone wants to buy it they can,” Ottati said.
Tate Ottati’s father, Tony Ottati, backed his son when he asked to buy a $100 comic book, and has helped in any way he could. “I’m real proud of him,” Tony Ottati said. “How many other 17-year-olds own their own business? I mean he bought one book and then it took off. He did everything, talked to the landlord, applied for city licenses. It’s his business. I just help out.”
Written by Henry Fitzgerald, Jr.
Update Note: Tate sold his TMNT #1 Comic for $315, BACK TO THE GUY HE BOUGHT IT FROM FOR $148, years before.
Publication: Sun-Sentinel – “People” section