Best of Goods & Services
Best superhero salesman
World’s Best Comics is not a comic shop with two shelves of magazines tucked in a dank corner surrounded by several empty tables for hordes of tabletop or card-game players. No, this is a comic-book shop for comic-book readers. And owner Dave Downey is proud of that fact.
Downey, 49, didn’t always plan on owning his own comic kingdom, but it wasn’t the craziest idea. Since a young age, he had a knack for selling books at yard sales.
“They were just used books from neighbors and stuff my parents didn’t want,” Downey says. “I wasn’t really thinking of that as a future job, but I guess it was just something I started early on and just kept with it.”
His love for books soon became a love for comic books. Downey was first drawn into comics by their bizarre covers, like Superman turning into a tree on the cover of Lois Lane. Humor comics like Archie and Dennis the Menace were his favorites, though. As he grew, so did his appreciation of the medium.
In 1985, when a friend pitched him the idea of splitting a store, Downey took the chance to open his first World’s Best Comics to pair with his friend’s record store on 14th and J streets. But as is the nature of things, this partnership eventually came to an end.
“CDs came along and killed the record business, at least for a while,” Downey says. “And he didn’t want to spend all of his money reinvesting in CDs, so he just ended up closing down.”
Not discouraged, Downey moved his store. He opened a store at 18th and K streets, and then moved next to the then-grand Tower Records on Watt Avenue in 1990. He quickly began enjoying the stature of being by the large chain.
“You had Tower Books on one side and Tower Records on the other side,” Downey says. “It was really a busy hot spot.” When Tower closed, Downey opened a store at his current location, 2608 Watt Avenue, near Country Club Lanes.
And what a store it is! One step inside and you’d swear a color bomb exploded. Plush toys hang over customers’ heads from the ceiling. Old action figures and busts adorn the walls, and the comics decorate the shelves, beaming their multihued glory to all. It’s nearly impossible to avoid being overcome by a mixture of nostalgia and surprise.
Downey is the perfect person to run this empire. Frequently joined by his canine companion, Ko-Ko, Downey offers exceptional customer service. He’ll patiently reorder missing issues or help an elderly woman pick a rom-com from the 1930s. (For the latter, the woman repaid him with watermelon slices.)
A single visit shows that this isn’t a regular comic-book store. What Downey owns is a slice of comic-book culture. And that’s exactly what he is, too.
Serene Lusano, Toni Okamoto and Rose Della Rosa
Best midcentury modern mavens
It started as an Internet lark—obsessively browsing Craigslist for midcentury modern furniture and sharing the finds via Facebook. Eventually, Serene Lusano and Rose Della Rosa decided to take their window shopping to a new level and launched their Mimomito blog at http://mimomito.wordpress.com.
That was summer 2010, and in the year since, Mimomito’s ranks have swelled to include one of its early readers, Toni Okamoto. “I was a fan. I liked how they promoted a do-it-yourself mentality … buying your own furniture and learning to refinish it and putting together at home the way you want it,” Okamoto says.
The idea, Lusano adds, was to build upon a love of vintage design with reader input. “We wanted to involve readers with home tours and ways to make it more of a community thing,” she says.
It worked. During its brief existence, the blog has evolved into a useful tool for Sacramento shoppers—so much so that the term “mimomito,” which stands for “midcentury modern Midtown,” has even become a keyword on regional Craigslist ads. It also features sections devoted to “Purchase Success Stories” and, amusingly, “Do Not Want: Craigslist’s Worst.” (An old Eames chair, reupholstered in tacky ’70s floral fabric? Enough said.) These days, they also sell their own vintage finds at the newly opened Scout Living store in Midtown.
The blog’s impact extends beyond shopping, Okamoto says. “We’re having the most fun meeting new, like-minded people and being involved in the midcentury design community.”
And although there’s an emphasis on ’50s and ’60s-era Scandinavian pieces, Mimomito isn’t limited to its namesake style. The site also highlights kitschy ’70s thrift-store discoveries, Asian-influenced design and, generally, anything timelessly chic.
“[We’re] all interested in midcentury modern, but it’s [about] adding your own personality,” Okamoto says.
Jen and Shawn Fosnight
Best purveyors of compassion
For the first year after Never Felt Better Vegan Shop opened its doors, the proprietors worried that they were too tucked away, hidden from view from Sacramento’s ever-growing community of vegans and vegetarians.
Still, Jen and Shawn Fosnight decided to test the waters, selling vegan food, clothing and personal products in a compact storefront above the Sugar Plum Vegan restaurant on K Street. “We wanted to see how it would work—but we weren’t sure how we’d be received,” Jen Fosnight says.
Certainly, the location made for logistical challenges. “Some people couldn’t find us, even with the address and sign,” she says. Still, enterprising shoppers managed to track down the store, lured in by its array of vegan cheeses and baking mixes, animal-friendly lotions and cruelty-free accessories, such as belts and bags.
“There are a lot of vegans here in Sacramento, looking for a cohesive community,” Fosnight says. “We saw that the shop could be a good springboard for that.”
Now the Fosnights are ready to grow that community even more. The couple just signed the lease on a new Midtown location at 1910 P Street. The new space, which opens in October, is bigger and, perhaps most important, more visible and accessible.
The store will be closed until then but, Fosnight says, she and her husband are excited about the shop’s new location and its possibilities. “We’re going to focus more on grocery and pantry items and also expand with a grab-and-go deli section,” she says. “We’re also expanding our vegan clothing line.”
The idea, she says, is to show customers—vegans and curious meat eaters alike—that veganism isn’t some weird, wacky way of living on the fringe. “People kind of assume that veganism is just food-related. We want to teach them about the whole lifestyle,” she says. “We want to show people it’s not just a vegetable cult. We’re normal people with families.”