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Anchorage comic store Bosco's gearing up to move up Spenard Road

Devin Kelly
Bosco's owner John Weddleton on Thursday, June 19, 2014, has purchased an old building that once was a car wash along Spenard Road and plans to move his business to the new location early next year. Bill Roth photo

An Anchorage comic store is on the verge of transforming a vacant car wash in the neighborhood of Spenard into a haven for comic books, cards and late-night gaming sessions.

After nearly three decades at its current location, Bosco’s, an established Spenard business and pop-culture barometer, is gearing up for a move. The new property, a fenced-in lot and a green cinderblock building at 2301 Spenard Road, is right up the street -- close enough, you could say, for Superman to leap there in a single bound.

John Weddleton, the owner of Bosco’s, bought the property about a year ago.

“But I’d been looking at it forever,” Weddleton said recently. In the 1970s, a gas station stood on the property.  “It’s an odd shape, but it works for me.”

He’s expecting to start the renovation process within the next few weeks, with a total timeframe of about seven months for the move.

Moving into the old car wash will displace an art group, the Light Brigade, which was borrowing the building as a workshop. The group, which includes Anchorage artists Sheila Wyne and Bruce Farnsworth, is actively looking for a new space.   

But it will be a big upgrade for Bosco's, a favorite hangout for tabletop gamers, science fiction fans, comic book lovers and other devoted customers. 

With twice as much space for gaming events, along with a larger retail space and an expansion of the store's young-readers section, the new building will be well-suited for gatherings. Weddleton and his staff envision a future populated with tailgate parties, flea markets and food trucks parked under the metal canopy.

A glass front will eventually grace the entrance, along with a “Bosco’s” sign. The new building also offers space for more bathroom facilities, easing a long-running shortage.

The business has operated in Spenard since 1984, when it opened across the street from its present location on Spenard Road. It moved to the current location, 2606 Spenard Road, in 1987. Another location inside the Dimond Center mall opened in 1989.

Over the years, among other changes, Weddleton has seen the fan base for board games and sports cards shift from a younger crowd to a more mature one. He’s also watched the boom in popularity of Japanese comics and games.

A savvy staff with an ear for what customers want has helped when it comes to staying on top of trends, he said.

He estimated it would take three or four U-Hauls to transfer over the store’s stock of comic books, cards, games and movies, but some things can’t come along. Like the floor in the sports section at the far corner of the store that's speckled with sports trading cards brought in by customers.

“I’ll miss this floor,” Weddleton said, looking down at the familiar surface beneath his feet.

About five years ago, Bosco’s expanded into the old Mafia Mike’s pizza shop space next door and set it up as a gaming room. Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer and Yu-gi-oh! are among the games played there, averaging about 90 people a week overall.

On a recent afternoon, five guys were seated around a table, immersed in a Magic game.

Because of the current setup, gamers must leave when the retail side of Bosco’s closes, which is 8 p.m. most days of the week and 11 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. 

In the new building, the gaming side will be separate with bathroom access, allowing the night owls of the gaming crowd to stay well past midnight.  

Weddleton has also set down drawings of the building and colored pencils in front of his staff in recent weeks, asking them to draw in their own ideas. "There's still time" for suggestions, he said. 

Contact Devin Kelly at dkelly@adn.com.

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