“I wish them well, but I plan to crush them under my heel,” Ben “Stone” Stomberg, owner of Stone Alley Books, good-naturedly said of the new games and comics store in Galesburg. “I don’t expect much competition from them – games and new comics are mostly their focus.” Stone said his sales of classic comics had actually improved since the opening of the new store.
Stone Alley opened on August 31, and business has been strong. As expected, business picked up a great deal around the holidays and has dropped off a bit in January. Since opening, however, Stone has hired two part time employees to help him run the store.
“Originally, it was just me, seven days a week. Now I’m only here six days a week,” he said. Since opening, comics and records have sold much better than originally expected. Most popular among Knox students and professors is the used classic literature and poetry section.
“I have a really hard time keeping that stocked,” said Stone.
As part of his expanding business, Stone now sells used books at Kaldi’s and provides free Kaldi’s coffee and Wi-Fi at the bookstore. Stone told us this while sipping coffee from an Innkeeper’s coffee cup. “I was late this morning and needed to drive through somewhere,” said Stone, laughing. “I hook people on John’s [the owner of Kaldi’s] product, and he sells my books.”
Across the street, Sweet’s Candy and Soda Shop has also been doing good business since its November 6 opening. Sherry Reed, owner of Sweet’s, said that sales during the holiday season were strong, but have tapered off in January. She expects business to pick up in the spring and summer with more people buying ice cream. So far, fudge, nostalgia candies and ice cream have been her big sellers.
Reed plans to slowly add more products over time. “The store has an old timey style so people can buy what they want, like just one piece of candy, instead of something prepackaged,” said Reed.