Monday, October 25, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 162

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 45
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16


The night before my last buying day in the Belknap Mall, the two major local newspapers ran articles with photographs. This is the article from The Laconia Daily Sun:

“Old Toys May Bring New Treasures.” By Lin Hourihan

“Who would have ever thought that taking such good care of his toys and comic books for over 40 years could have afforded him to spend $250,000 this week on those treasured collectibles?

“That’s just what Paul Howley, local collector and dealer, is doing at The Belknap Mall this week. He’s on a mission to hunt down comic books, old toys and games, old books and magazines, model kits, G. I. Joe dolls, Barbie dolls, and many other interesting items. He’ll tell you what your collection is worth and possibly might buy it from you.

“This is one hot collectibles dealer, owner of That’s Entertainment, New England’s largest collectible store located in Worcester, Massachusetts. However, Howley, who now resides in Gilford, has brought his business to the Internet through the wonderful world of Ebay and now sells internationally.

“Among his prestigious lists of accomplishments in his toy story is his winning the 1997 “Will Eisner Spirit Of Comics Award,” a beautiful cut-glass award and an international recognition for comic retailing. In 1996 Howley came in second to a company in Australia.
“‘It was great for us, and we had to prepare all of the documentation for it all,’ said Howley. ‘We’ve also been written up in INC.Magazine, a national business magazine, and I co-wrote the book, “The Toys From Uncle,” which is a take off from The Man From Uncle. That was my favorite TV show. I wrote the book in 1990 and was selling it for $9.95. But now it sells anywhere from $35 to $55 on Ebay,’ said Howley.
“Toy trends vary with the times, depending on the generation reminiscing of their yesteryears. The generation now recapturing those long-lost memories seem to be those people from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

“‘People generally buy in their childhood span. But things can change quickly. Two years ago Star Wars was the hottest thing in the business, now it’s slow,’ said Howley.

“‘Collecting toys is not as volatile as the stock market, but you do have to be careful on investments. We have a gigantic customer base that is based on the market right now, not on the future or the past,’ explained Howley.

“‘We’ve never had any cash problems. Now we’re a very successful company. Our website is but we do most of our Internet sales with Ebay. That started five or six years ago. Three years ago that was the single most visited Internet site in the world. Now 16 million people use it everyday,’ said Howley

“This week Howley can be found in the center of the Belknap Mall, somewhere between his huge display of toys and collectibles others are bringing in for him to appraise. ‘I’m looking to spend $250,000 this week,’ he said.

“‘I don’t suggest investing in new toys. You can’t get anything more dead than Beanie Babies,’ added Howley.

“In addition to giving free appraisals and giving away free comic books this week, Howley said he is also looking for sports cards dated prior to 1975 and video tapes and music CDs.

“‘As a kid, I was very meticulous, and my room was very organized. My comic books were in order, in alphabetical order on the shelf. I still have many of the original toys I had as a kid. I played with the other kids in the neighborhood with my toys but no one ever touched my comic books,’ chuckled Howley.

“Included in his interesting collection of toys on display is the second Barbie doll ever made, now a $1000 value. If the doll was loose, it’d be worth $300, but the original box is key.

“‘I have the Man From Uncle attaché case. It was then sold to cash in on the James Bond era. It sold with this cardboard sleeve that most people threw away. In 1965 it was worth $9, now it is a $2000 item,’ said Howley.

“There are paint by number sets, dated from 1967 now selling for $250 and a model kit of The Munsters that sold for $1.98 in 1965 that is going for $2500 now. Remember the Batman card game from 1966 or the Kiss Colorforms from 1979? Well, they are going for $75 and $50 respectively.

“‘I was the first kid in my school to have a G. I. Joe. A G. I. Joe then in 1965 was $3. Now it is worth $75 and because I have it in the original box it is worth $150,’ Howley said.

“Howley’s store is in its 21st year of operation, now employing 12 full-time people who get a very good benefit package and profit sharing.

“‘Our employees are there because it is a career for them. Most of our employees have been there for ten years or more,’ said Howley

“‘I retired from the active day-to-day operation almost six years ago. I knew when I was twelve years old that I did not want to work past 40 years old. I have achieved everything I have ever wanted,’ said Howley.”

Next chapter: The results of these two newspaper articles.

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