By Jordan Slonke, Staff Writer
Follow him @JumbaDaniels
One might ask themselves, “Do people even read comic books anymore?” Don’t tell that to Gloria Berman, who has been the owner of Gem Comics in downtown Elmhurst since 1982.
Gem Comics has just about every comic series one could think of. From “Sonic the Hedgehog” to the classic “Superman,” Berman has boxes and displays full of back issues as well as new content. She also takes orders for customers’ comic needs and stocks them in as quick as two weeks’ time.
Berman’s boyfriend at the time pushed her into the comic book business. She quit her job so that she could run the shop full time. While running the shop, she began to expand her knowledge of comic books and appreciate the arts that they provide.
“I learned about comic books from all my customers. I always appreciated the artwork and the stories that they provided. My customers would tell me, ‘Go read this. Look at this.’ They were the ones that helped my interest grow,” Berman said.
While Berman is full of knowledge and appreciation for comic books now, she wasn’t always encouraged to pursue that passion.
“When I was a kid, my mother used to yell at me for reading comic books. She thought I was going to be a juvenile delinquent for reading them,” Berman said. “I was really into “Casper the Ghost” and “Richie Rich” comic books.”
There was a time when the comic book industry grew so rapidly that Berman decided to open a second store in Wheaton.
“There was one period in the late 80s, early 90s where business was booming and people had money to spend. They were speculating on comic books and baseball cards at the time. I fell down on the floor one day and said to myself, ‘look at all the money!’”
However, Berman realized that it was too difficult to manage two stores in different locations and the Wheaton store ended up closing within a few years.
“I tried, but I found that I wasn’t a very good micromanager,” she said. “The only people who came were my customers from this location just to see what it was like. When I revealed that the Wheaton location would be closing, customers came up to me and begged me not to close,” Berman said.
Elmhurst became Berman’s permanent location after a friend of hers suggested the area.
While Berman is not ready to call it quits just yet, she described her idea of what she wants for Gem when she finally does retire.
“I’m hoping for someone to buy this. Someone who is very social media savvy. He or she can use that social media to get more people in here. But for now, this place is my baby and I just keep going for the love of it.”