Most people probably would not expect Jonesboro, Arkansas to be a center of superhero fandom, comic book aficionados and other nerd culture. But over the past five years, B&B Collections has proven them wrong by becoming a hotbed of “all things nerdy” for both locals and collectors throughout the U.S.
The people to thank for this entertainment-oriented explosion are owners Brandon Jones and Beau Honeycutt. Their decision to launch the store- which grew from a flea market stand into a thriving retail space that draws online business far beyond its regional base via a booming eBay site- is rooted in a lifelong passion.
“Growing up in the ‘80s, it was everywhere: Spider-Man, Hulk, Batman on TV and in theaters, He-Man, GI Joe, and others,” recalled Jones, 45. “For comics, I was given a box of Silver Age Superman comics as a kid that were passed down to me. Superman had been my favorite because of “Superman The Movie,” and I started reading them at that point. I loved buying them off the spinner rack at a local grocery store.”
“I remember when reading comics, loving Star Wars, or even wearing a rock t-shirt wasn’t mainstream. Now it is everywhere. I love it.”
“Growing up also around pop culture, I just loved everything about comics,” added Honeycutt, 42. “‘X-Men’ comics really got me into the collecting. I started a pull list at my local comic book store and have always enjoyed it. Movies have done so much to get these characters out in the mainstream, and it’s awesome to see.”
The colorful space is packed with comic books, manga and other graphic novels, posters, Funkos, statues, action figures, clothing and more, creating a wonderland of fun.
According to Jones, the chance to dive in as business owners was a dream come true for the dynamic duo, who met 20 years ago while working at an insurance agency and have remained friends ever since.
“We decided to start B&B Collections after the local Hastings [pop culture store] closed, and our first location was in a flea market,” recalled Jones. “Jonesboro has changed a lot since we started, because when we opened, selling higher ticket items in town was not an easy task. That is the reason we quickly moved to open an eBay store. However, in the last few years, the market in town has opened up.”
Jones noted that Funkos – a variation on Bobblehead dolls which focus on pop culture icons – are extremely popular with their customers. Among the most popular comic book titles are lines about heroes Spawn, White and Batman, in addition to many Marvel brand runs, while independent comics also have a thriving niche audience.
The most prized item in their vast collection of over 20,000 comics is currently the first appearance of the character Black Adam in a 1945 Fawcett comic book, along with the earliest issues of his DC brand run many years later. Jones’ proudest memory was having some Spider-Man comics that were signed by its legendary creator Stan Lee in stock during the earliest days of the store.
B&B offers some special incentives to customers, such as $5 flat-rate shipping for comics or books up to $75 and a Buy 5, Get One Free offer on its comic books. They also offer grading services to evaluate the condition and worth of both comics and non-comics items. In addition, they offer signature witnessing, which involves verifying that items were actually signed by major figures associated with the comics.
“Navigating the orders from pull lists to keep our customers happy has been an adventure, to say the least, because most comic book orders are one to two months out,” explained Jones.
“The most satisfying part of doing all this is two-fold: seeing parents come in with their children and buying stuff together, and meeting and getting signatures on comics or other items from folks we never would have met had we not started this business. It’s a dream come true.”
B&B Collections is located at 1825 E. Nettleton Ave., Jonesboro. Call (870) 203-6008 or visit www.jonesboroarkansascomicstore.com.