Juan Lecaros is a hoarder.
The 31-year-old Union City resident has amassed a collection of more than 7,000 comic books and 1,500 figures. But Lecaros’ excessive habit may just be his ticket to happiness and financial success.
Lecaros is the owner of Comic and Figure Addicts, a new specialty store opening later this month at 3902 Smith St., right next door to , where hobbyists can buy, sell or trade new and rare comics and collectibles.
An avid toy collector, Lecaros decided to turn his hobby into a business after losing his job as a San Lorenzo elementary school teacher last year.
“When the economy started going down the drain, my hours got cut,” he said. “I had always thought about doing this maybe 15 to 20 years from now. Maybe this was pointing me in that direction of why not do it now instead of later?”
“It was just the circumstances. You think it’s a bad thing, but it turns out being good,” he said.
Starting this year, he took the leap and started saving up for his business. Though he’s secured accounts from comic book distributors, almost all of Lecaros’ current inventory is from his personal collection.
“I honestly didn’t think it was that much until I started packing it up and brought it to the store,” he said.
Lecaros’ vast collection includes everything from vintage comics, posters and graphic novels to Star Wars, Marvel, GI Joe, WWE, Transformers, MLB, NFL and other popular figures.
The items at Comic and Figure Addicts are reasonably priced, with many of the toys ranging from $20 to $50 and only a handful of comic books between $100 and $300.
Despite being a niche market, Lecaros expects business to do well.
“Fans are really faithful to the hobby,” he said. “They always make it out to the comic store every Wednesday the day new comics come out.”
There also isn’t any direct competition in Union City.
“We’re starting off with . In this area, there are no more book stores,” he said.
A lifelong Union City resident, Lecaros said there hasn’t been a local comic book shop since the 90s. With few outlets, he and his friends would travel frequently to shops such as Comic Ink in Dublin to not only buy and trade comics, but to hang out as well. The former owner of the store was a mentor to Lecaros.
“I just loved going there because of the atmosphere,” Lecaros said. “It was the Cheers of comic book stores. When he sold the store, that went missing.”
But more than just a destination for comic fans, Lecaros wants to his business to become a true community staple. He plans to collaborate with local organizations and hold special events. Combining his two passions, he said he’d like to hold Free Comic Book Day events with local schools.
Though Lecaros initially had his eyes set on Union Landing as a location so he could be close to and Gameworks, he’s happy he picked Smith Street.
“This is a nice spot,” Lecaros said. “You got the two schools, the college kids who go to Paddy’s, the farmers market, the little league kids who come to Bronco Billy’s. Everyone comes here.”
Comic and Figure addicts is tentatively scheduled for a soft opening in mid-October and a grand opening later in the month. For more updates on the store, follow Comic and Figure Addicts on Facebook or Twitter.