When Eric Yelowitz and Gabrielle Shine started what would become Comics & Killers Collectibles from their home during the height of the pandemic, they had no idea that a community cornerstone would grow from their combined and ardent love of all things nerd.
“Being the massive nerds that we are, we had 30-plus years’ worth of [stuff] between the two of us, plus 50 years from the rest of my family, and, like, another 75 from my uncle’s family,” Yelowitz recalls. “It was in four storage units across two states, plus our house and my dad’s house, and we just started selling it all from our basement.”
Yelowitz credits his “lovely better half” for realizing the business potential of what began as a way to offset the pandemic’s aftermath of reduced hours and eventual layoff from his previous 9-to-5 gig. The two bring their own unique assets to Comics & Killers Collectibles, which has helped the shop attract a loyal following of hobbyists, toy collectors, pop-culture enthusiasts, comic-book aficionados, fans of the bizarre and all manner of their fellow self-described nerds.
“We cater to a really eclectic taste,” says Yelowitz. “We have everything from turn-of-the-century dental equipment to Pez dispensers to plushies and Funkos, we have a coffin filled with VHS tapes, and I’m standing here looking at [Beverly Hills] 90210 dolls—we have about anything you can imagine, just a metric ton of stuff.”
To help cultivate the widest and weirdest selection possible, the two collaborate with other businesses in their orbit, like Heroes in Burlington Township, Ron’s Comic World in Lumberton or Rancocas Woods’ Second Time Books; additionally, they bring a number of their wares to the outdoor Columbus Mart flea market every Sunday. It’s all helped to authentically create a vast network of like-minded folks who not only share their passion but also want to help other collectors hunt down that item they’ve spent years looking for.
“There’s at least one person a day that comes in and says, ‘I have never seen this before’ or ‘I haven’t seen this in forever’ or ‘Oh my God, that’s amazing,’ and it makes my day every time,” Yelowitz affirms. “And if we don’t have it, we both have outlets and connections so we can get it for you.”
While the couple is thrilled whenever anyone takes in their store’s wall-to-wall treasures with childlike awe and enthusiasm, it’s connecting with youngsters that truly makes their day.
“I can’t even count how many times kids have walked up and their parent says, ‘No, you had a budget for today,’ and I ask, ‘Which one did you really, really want?’—and then they could have it,” says Shine. “They get so excited. I love that so much, it’s everything to me.”
Their dedication to budding pop-culture enthusiasts extends to regular giveaways, like offering free comic books or Pokémon cards on Fridays to reward children who’ve been on their best behavior all week.
Yelowitz and Shine also support their neighbors of all ages through the likes of Toys for Tots, breast cancer walks and autism awareness events. As they’re frequent fixtures at shows and conventions like Monster Mania and the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market, Yelowitz adds that the couple has turned those events into further community-minded opportunities, raffling off toys and gaming systems and then “donating all that money to any charity we can.”
Those efforts have all contributed to both shared and individual honors, with South Jersey Magazine including Shine and Yelowitz among its annual Leading Ladies and Leading Men highlights, as well as naming Comics & Killers as 2023’s Best of the Best for the Collectibles category.
And while accolades are always appreciated, the real rewards are much more humble than that.
“We’re not in it for the recognition: We just do it because we love giving back,” says Shine.
“I love when people come in and they just sit with me and talk, I love talking about their collections and what they’re into,” Yelowitz adds. “It’s all about building a rapport with people.”
Comics & Killers Collectibles
Hainesport | Columbus Mart, Spot E40 on Sundays
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Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 20, Issue 8 (November 2023)