first met Matthew Kreger, owner of Boom Comics, at Topeka’s inaugural comic book convention, TopCon, last September. At that time, Boom Comics was on the drawing board, but Matthew’s charisma was center stage. Several local comic retailers were represented at the event and everyone brought their best wares to show off. Even with all these dealers around, Boom Comics was the hub of the event. Matthew had brought dozens of professionally graded copies of some of the most important books in comic history, along with box after box of great reading copies, toys and games.
I remember thinking, “When this guy opens his store, I want to hang out there.”
In early November, several weeks after Boom had opened, my wife and I went into the store located at 2025 SW Gage for the first time. It was a Friday night and at first glance I saw a lot of activity on the Table Talk Games side of the room (Boom Comics is the new home of Table Talk Games, a great group in their own right, seveneightfive June 2012) and I soon learned that it was Magic: The Gathering Friday and this crowd of 30ish Magic players were meeting every Friday night at Boom. In back of the gaming space I saw a big flat screen TV playing comic book movies in front of a nice comfy couch and flanked by a pair of pinball machines and a couple arcade games. I also saw a nice board game library under the TV for customers to try before they buy. As I gazed across the rest of the huge space that Boom occupies, I saw board games, card games, toys, t-shirts, collectibles, and comics. My eyes stopped at the “epic-wall-o-comics.” There is no other way to describe this floor to ceiling, wall to wall gathering of new comics. I believe quite possibly EVERY current comic book title can be found. Once my eyes could move again they made it full circle to the front counter where I saw Matthew, along with his staff, politely helping the several customers in front of them. Matthew noticed my wife and me and spent several minutes talking with us. The conversation mostly consisted of me stating how awestruck I was by Boom Comics and Matthew calmly playing off his Ark of Geekdom as though it were just your average comic book store. Since that November day, I have been back to Boom Comics several times and have happily observed more comics, more merchandise, and more customers with every visit.
Matthew is from Berryton, KAN and a 1986 graduate of Shawnee Heights High School, and so is his wife, Lori Ruddle, who works as an agent for Hawk’s Real Estate Professionals when not helping out with the store. Matthew attended a few colleges, finishing with a Master’s Degree from the University of Houston. After college, Matthew began performing professionally as an opera singer, eventually ending in Brooklyn, NY. A loss in his life caused a series of changes which brought him back to Topeka in 2013. As a lifelong comic collector and self-professed geek, the store “just made sense” and Matthew couldn’t be happier than he is at the helm of Boom Comics. Most will agree Matthew is where he should be.
“[Here at Boom] it’s all about being friendly to every customer who walks through the door and following through by making promises and delivering. If a customer is looking for something and I don’t have it and can’t get it from a distributor I will go find it and sell it to them for a minimal profit. I think a lot of stores in the area make that promise but don’t follow through. At Boom we follow through.” I personally find this kind of dedication to customer service to be the hallmark of great businesses.
But that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it is just the first part of a saga stretching far into the future and who knows how far afield. April 1st will mark the grand opening of Boom Comics Manhattan where Matthew, and Manhattan manager Josh will offer the same great selection of comics, games and other geeky goodies with the added awesomeness of new and used video games and movies. Boom Manhattan will even have a theater room where you can battle it out with your buddies on a huge screen with epic sound. Next, look for Boom Comics Lawrence in July, followed by a store in Kansas City and a possible franchise down the road. Thank you, Matthew, from myself and all the other geeks who now have a place to call home.
by Brandon Rison | April 2015