Everything You Always Wanted to Know
About Heroes & Dragons
(But Were Afraid to Ask)

"Not quite as exciting as a super-hero origin,
but not half bad."

by CHRIS FOSS



  Originally established in 1982, Heroes & Dragons 
   now exists as a 12,000-square-foot Mega-Store in 
   our hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.

Heroes and Dragons started in the early 1980s in Charleston, South Carolina. The store was originally called New Dimension Comics.  It was very small at just 300 square feet but had an appropriately tiny rent.

Previously a fish market, the building always had a pungent aroma surrounding the boxes of back issues.  Some even claim that comics purchased there retain a faint smell of sea bass to this day.

Still working full-time in Charleston Naval Shipyard on nuclear submarines as a marine engineer, Chris considered the shop equal parts business and pleasure. His old pal and childhood comic buddy Jesse Willis was gainfully employed, and it was a cool place to hang out after a hard day of working on the Red October. A likable and gregarious fellow, Jesse also has the distinction of being the template for the comic store operator on THE SIMPSONS.

As humble beginnings sometimes do, the store did much better then expected. This presented Chris with an age-old dilemma: There is not enough time to do everything.

In time, Chris decided to do what most entrepreneurs do: He went for it by quitting his lucrative engineering career to pursue full-time his fledgling comics business. "Yeah baby, here I come," he thought. "The next great comic empire has begun."


Mid- to Late 1980s >

After several years of living in poverty, Chris was still waving the New Dimension Comics banner (flags are a big deal in South Carolina).  The company amazingly grew to five stores, with locations across both Carolinas in Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston. Jesse moved so much he decided to live in his car. All the New Dimension Comics stores during these years were smaller than 2,000 square feet and sold primarily comics and related merchandise. But the crazy comics boom of the early 1990s was just around he corner.

Late 1980s to Early 1990s >

In 1989 the big news was the BATMAN movie. For the first time ever the general public hungrily sought out New Dimension Comics for all things Batman. Sure, they bought comics, but they kept asking for toys and other merchandise too. This key event (coupled with Chris's personal interest in vintage science fiction and super-hero memorabilia) led New Dimension to begin diversifying its merchandise. Toys became part of the store equation.

Having gamed prolifically in college with classmates like the guys who started the game company FASA, Chris always wanted to get into selling games. Soon after the toy enterprise, New Dimension began carrying role-playing games. The timing proved good on both ventures, for when the comic excesses of the time began in earnest, the extra profits helped build the other merchandise lines and make the company more stable.

A big problem at the time was the need for a larger storefront and a name that would be more indicative of the broader scope of merchandise. With so much going on in Columbia during this time period, Chris decided to move there and consolidate the company's activities to that city. Out of town locations were sold off or closed — there is still a New Dimension Comics in Greenville, SC today — and Chris concentrated the evolving company's full attention on the Columbia market.

Hence the creation of Heroes & Dragons with a new 2,500-square-foot location in Columbia, SC in 1990.

Not quite as exciting as a super-hero origin, but not half bad.

Early to Mid-1990s >

Everything was hot, and comic and game stores opened on every block everywhere. Heroes & Dragons expanded stupidly to keep up with the Joneses and intelligently to maintain market-share. It was a no-win scenario. At the height of the insanity, the chain again numbered five locations, all in Columbia.

Magic: The Gathering was introduced just as the great comic market consolidation began. Magic and pogs were the best things that happened for a few years. As stores started closing all around the area, Heroes and Dragons began its second great consolidation.

Mid-1990s to the 21st Century >

The solution to post-boom blues was to move the entire chain into a single new 12,000-square-foot mega-store located in the same shopping center as the original store.

Closing all the other Heroes & Dragons outlets over a two-year period, we discovered the new location had enough room for all of their fixtures and inventory. Operational costs went down, too. Even though the new showroom was bigger than we'd ever dealt with, it still saved over paying the bills for five separate stores.

The real challenge that loomed in the future was to make the same or greater sales in one building as the whole chain did before. The plan worked. Jesse moved to Greenville and got married. He now lives in a real home.

Other staff members picked up the torch and ran with it. Today Heroes & Dragons is more than just a large store, more even than a Mega-Store. It is an experience.

Customers travel from many cities to shop the vast selection of new and old comics, toys, and games that are always in stock.

We take the store on the road to you at the major conventions.

And there's this here fancy website to handle the rest.

Remember that Heroes and Dragons is constantly changing and here to serve you.  However we can do it, WE'LL HOOK YOU UP!