Business is booming, according to Andrew Lamb, owner of Infinity Watch Collectibles. His store in Umatilla is packed with customers. This is good news for the Umatilla resident, as his success keeps him close to his passions – the many collectibles in his store.
Lamb still remembers his first collectible comic, “Captain America No. 101”. The issue, released in 1968 and titled “When the Sleeper Wakes,” was created by writer Stan Lee and cartoonist Jack Kirby. As for the beginnings, this comic was a pretty good start, Lamb said. That said, the comic wasn’t his only interest.
His parents, who were big fans and collectors of Star Wars, interested him in collectibles, but he was more interested in Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Batman.
In the late 90s and early 2000s he was getting everything he could. Most often he would buy items featuring popular heroes, such as Wolverine. He said he didn’t really know what he was doing, so he didn’t always make the best decisions as a collector or speculator.
These days he knows better. His personal collection is made up of “key issues”, comics important to the first appearance of a popular character, a landmark story or the first issue of a series. He also tries to get key books to sell in his store, although he also has a lot of comics that are not essential but still entertaining.
Nowadays, the comic book collection is based on speculation, he said. Collectors will generally keep an eye out for movie and TV ads. As soon as a new film project is announced, collectors will attempt to purchase comics related to the project. Soon after, the price of these comics increased. Even lesser-known characters, such as Moon Knight, can become big sellers before a movie.
Some collectors are interested in the stories for their own good, although they do not always buy physical copies of the books. They tend to read comics online and then maybe buy a hard copy for their collection. These hard copies are not for reading, Lamb said.
Most people interested in comic book stories, he said, don’t follow American comics; instead, they read manga (Japanese comics) and watch anime (Japanese cartoons). Lamb said there is only one manga series, such as “Demon Slayer,” which sells better than all of the most popular American comics combined.
And while it sells both comics and manga, Lamb’s best-selling items are Pokémon cards. And it’s not just the kids who buy the cards; it is also adults. Boys, girls, men and women, everyone loves Pokemon, according to the store owner.
He said it relates to their interest. When he was younger he bought packs of cards. He still remembers the excitement of opening the packages, hoping to get a valuable card. That feeling is with him today.
He is happy to be able to surround himself with his interests, but he knows that this situation is fragile. It opened in 2019, but it didn’t take long for it to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not until November 2020 that it was able to reopen.
He said he had ideas for things he would like to do in the future. But above all, he hopes to continue doing this job he loves.
“We have a lot of fun here,” he said.