A Castro comic book store is in serious financial trouble, with its owner saying he needs to raise $8,000 by the end of the week or the shop will close for good. Whatever, as the store is called, is located at 548 Castro Street and has been selling comics, graphic novels, and figurines for ten years. Its owner has launched a GoFundMe with the hope of raising the necessary funds.
"It really hurts to say this but after 10.5 years, Coug and I need some help," owner Rich Boutell wrote on Facebook, referring to the store's co-owner. "It's been a rough couple of months for sales. If we don't raise the money we need, Whatever... will be closed."
Boutell further explained on the GoFundMe page that he is not ready to let Whatever shutter. "I opened this store over 10 years ago and we were doing great," he wrote. "Every year our sales went up. We hit a wall and haven't yet recovered. The Castro is in a weird transition and we just need to make it through."
According to Boutell, the money will go toward paying business bills and helping it through the typically slow months of January and February. "This has been my dream, my own comic store and dammit, it's a great store. I don't want to give up on my dream."
This is not the first time that Whatever, which specializes in queer-focused comics, has run into trouble. In 2014, Hoodline reported that construction related to the Castro Streetscape Improvement Project had allegedly depressed sales at the shop. "We were hit hard by the decrease in foot traffic," Boutell told the publication. "Even with the project being done, it's not like waving a magic wand and everything is back to normal."
Boutell is hoping that the fundraising effort, combined with holiday sales, will enable him to remain in business. "Starting Tuesday we will be open everyday," he told his Facebook followers. "Please think about doing some holiday shopping at Whatever... (It's free shipping because you are already in the store!lol). We could really use the support right now."