Two months after Star Clipper closed its doors in the Delmar Loop, its new owners have set a date for its grand reopening downtown: April 25.
The soft opening may come even sooner, says Keya Matanagh, who will be managing the location for owners Fantasy Books Inc.
"We are definitely going to be open by then," Matanagh promises.
Co-owners Ben and A.J. Trujillo had announced in January that the beloved Loop store would be closing after 27 years in business. But weeks later came a reprieve of sorts -- the Trujillos agreed to sell not only the store's fixtures, but also its name, to Fantasy Books, which has comic shops in Metro East and had been looking to expand into St. Louis.
In addition, four of the shop's employees have been hired to staff the new downtown location, including Matanagh.
"There are going to be some changes, but we are trying to keep the Star Clipper tradition alive as much as possible," says Matanagh. "Having the four of us working there will make that much easier. We're going to continue to be the same Star Clipper everyone loves."
Renovations of the space, a former dojo located at 1319 Washington Avenue, have focused on creating the bright, clean look that made Star Clipper a comic-book store anomaly. The staff also plans to keep the same focus on indie books and local authors.
But there will be some changes. In hopes of drawing tourists and City Museum-goers, the shop will feature an increased selection of vinyl figures and other pop-culture novelties. Gaming will also be a big addition, with regular board-game days and casual card-game events, Matanagh says.
The downtown location means the store may have to fight harder for traffic than its predecessor in the bustling U. City Loop. But it also presents a host of opportunities for collaborative programming. Matanagh cites the nearby MX Movie Theater, the convention center and the downtown library as planned event co-sponsors.
"I don't know if we'll have more events, but we will be trying for more events where people will stop and stay for awhile," he says.
While fans have rejoiced at Star Clipper's return, one detail has generated some online grumbling: The new logo, announced last week, proved less than thrilling.
"This is incredibly underwhelming," one fan wrote on Facebook. "You have access to very talented artists who would love a crack at this."
Wrote another, "This looks like a sports team logo."
The criticism is well-taken, Matanagh says. "If we ever do a logo change, we'll go with a community design or a logo contest," he says, adding, "If people ever have any questions or suggestions, they should always hit us up on social media. We are listening to you guys."
That doesn't mean the logo is going to change just yet.
"We've changed our focus to getting open as soon as possible," Matanagh says. And no matter what logo is displayed out front, that's got to be music to comic lovers' ears.