A staple in Edmonton’s comics community is closing its doors. On Tuesday, Happy Harbor Comics announced on social media that it is shutting down after nearly 20 years of operation in Edmonton.
In his Facebook post, owner Jay Bardyla said it was a difficult decision that was considered for a while.
“This news will shock most of you and for the suddenness of it all, we do apologize,” Bardyla wrote.
“Shawna and I have been discussing this for some time and we’ve both felt it was time for us to do something different.
“We have been spoiled and are extremely grateful to have met hundreds of amazing people over the years who share our passion for this wonderful medium. We couldn’t have asked for a better time of our lives.”
The decision to close was largely personal, Bardyla said, adding the business was becoming increasingly difficult to operate.
“The industry itself was becoming more challenging,” he told Global News on Wednesday. “You kind of hit that point where you have to start really assessing how much energy and drive you have left. A retail business isn’t the kind of thing where you just kind of open the doors and it runs itself, it’s always a lot of constant work.
“We were really starting to look hard at a lot of things — our physical health, our mental health.”
Bardyla said he recently took his first trip overseas, which helped open his eyes to new experiences.
“There’s a much bigger world than my orange walls here at the store and there’s a lot of stuff I want to do,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I want to see and there’s a lot of different ways I want to help my community.”
Bardyla said Happy Harbor has worked hard to spread its passion of comics around the province.
“We developed programs to support the creative community as well, from our Artist-in-Residence program to the Kid’s Camps to the Open Door collective and more. To us at The Harbor, the creation of comics was as important as the enjoyment derived from reading and collecting them,” Bardyla wrote.
WATCH BELOW: Happy Harbor Comics joined the morning news in November 2013 to talk about their Comics Artist-in-Residence program.
Bardyla also noted the store advocated for comic literacy by visiting schools and talking to students about how comics are made, which morphed into the Comic Book Fair program that visited 77 schools and donated more than $10,000 worth of comics to libraries.
“It has been a long and often rewarding adventure but the world is full of adventures so, in the words of a famous little blonde-haired boy and his tiger, ‘Let’s go exploring,'” Bardyla ended his post.
Bardyla said the store’s final day of operation is scheduled for Jan. 31.