‘Villains Comics’ uses nostalgia to build human connections

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Downtown Lewisburg has it all–delicious dining, boutiques, fine art, and now a new comic shop. 

Over the years, a couple of other comic shops opened their doors to customers, which residents remember fondly. But Villain’s has a few things working in its favor this time around. 

“The influx of more people brings more opportunities,” reflects owner Derrek Marcus. “Everybody who comes in says the same thing–’I’m so glad you’re here so I don’t have to go to Roanoke or Beckley.’” 

Villians Comics is located at 783 Court Street South in Lewisburg. They are open Thursday-Saturday from 11am-7pm. Photo by RealWV.

Derrek sold cards and comics on Ebay for a while. It was a fun hobby, until he realized it was actually making money. 

“Pokemon and Magic cards were hard to get a hold of,” he said. “It seemed like an opportunity that needed filled.” 

So in October 2023, Derrek opened a shop in downtown Lewisburg. 

“Pokemon cards keep the lights on,” he shares. He also sells Magic cards, Lorcana cards (a new Disney branded trading card), comics, vintage toys, merchandise, and more. 

He jokes about how popular fantasy trading card games have become in comparison to baseball cards. “These guys (baseball players) are working their asses off in real life and a fictional character outsells them. It’s kinda sad.” He says, for example, an Elsa trading card can bring $600. 

While you may assume his clientele is young, he says his customers range “from age 5-75.” Some buy for themselves while some buy for their kids or grandkids. 

“We’re selling nostalgia,” adds Danny Grzep, who operates a consignment booth inside the store specializing in video game consoles and nostalgic toys/items. “It’s a shop that treats you like a person, not a dollar bill.” 

Which leads to the other thing Villians has going for it. Derrek is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. During my short visit on a Friday afternoon, numerous customers came in the store. He knew each one by name and took time to assist them personally. 

Derrek’s dog, Quirky, can be found in the shop most days keeping an eye on things…and waiting to be petted. Photo by RealWV.

“I remember how cool it was as a kid to go to a comic store,” he reflects. “Now I’m the guy handing them stuff they’ll have memories of for years. Very cool.” 

For Derrek, it’s more than a shop and responsibility that goes beyond a retail interaction. “Some kids come in here and talk for hours. Like two or three hours.” 

He thinks cultural factors are at play. “People don’t have as many friends and spend a lot of time in their room or on their phone. They’re just hoping for some human connection.” 

Derrek’s next step for the shop is to open a game room in the back where people can come and play games together. He offers it on a small scale occasionally now but has big plans for the future. 

Villians Comics is open Thursday-Saturday from 11am-7pm. They hope to extend their hours soon. For more info, visit their website.

Derrek Marcus owns Villians Comics in downtown Lewisburg, WV. He loves the shop products, but his real passion is making human connections. Photo by RealWV.

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