Friday, June 30, 2006
From time to time I'll profile different Pomona businesses. First up, is our local comic book store, Funny Business at 1411 N. Garey, (909) 868-1974. If you blink as you pass by, you will miss the place, which is behind a flower shop and in the same strip mall as the Fountain of Love Church, about 3 blocks south of the 10 freeway on the west side of the street. The store is owned by Joey Samaniego and Carol Martinez and it is truly a labor of love. In fact, they both have other full-time jobs, so the store is only open on Friday from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. They have managed to squeeze a great selection of comic books into a space the size of a shoe box, not to mention the nerds, I mean regulars, that crowd around Joey at the register each week. At Funny Business, they know customers on a first name basis and often offer free food in addition to the cozy shelter.
Most people assume that Joey and Carol are married to each other, but they are actually married to other people. Their adult children are among the regulars that come through the store each weekend, lending towards the down home atmosphere. Carol bought into the store after realizing the literary power that comic books had over her son Daniel. She used to take young Daniel into Joey's old comic bookstore when Daniel was a little boy struggling to read (now he's in his 20's and going to college). My husband learned to read from Mexican comic books his mother bought him in Tijuana where he spent his formative years. Mr. Big already has a larger comic book vocabulary than I do, plus he's learning words like "laboratory" and "clandestine." Not suprisingly, comics are now being used in the classroom as a learning tool:
Joey is a kid at heart and the little kids (like Mr. Big) and the big kids (like my husband) are rendered defenseless once captured by his web of hospitality. Despite the shortage of space, Joey has set up a children's play area in the store for his own grandchildren and any other lucky kid who wanders into the store. The play area is stocked with every imagineable action figure and animation toy. He is always adding new toys since he sends older toys down to children in Mexico.
"With great power there must also come – great responsibility" (Book of Spiderman). Joey has proved himself a worthy super hero to generations of Pomona's big and little ones. He treats everyone like they are all special.
Joey and Carol are Pomona natives, and love to tell stories about oldtime Pomona. In fact, Carol and I discovered that her kindergarten teacher at Pomona's Alcott Elementary was the original owner of the Lincoln Park house where my family now lives. This is one of those places that makes you realize that Pomona is just a small town after all.