Two years and 24 days after the building was gutted by fire, Curious Comics has returned to 844 Goldstream Ave.
The store, which has been run in Langford since 2010, was forced to shut down after a fire broke out in one of the residential units above the store on Oct. 8, 2020. The resulting smoke and water damage from dousing the fire rendered the building uninhabitable, displacing residents and the comic book store below.
Now residents are slowly moving back in and the store officially reopened Nov. 1. Owner James Watson said one of the biggest issues has been how long the repairs took to get done. Insurance helped cover some of the costs, but it ran out as one year stretched into two.
“I’ve heard of people who have lost everything because they were cut off from insurance after a certain amount of time.”
Store manager Ken Layden was working in the store when the fire started and recalled the uncertainty at the time.
“Not really knowing at first what happened – there was a loud explosion-style sound. Then I was down in the store with one other customer, I looked outside because I saw stuff on the ground and I looked up and I saw the fire coming up on the unit and then I just said to the other customer, ‘We should go.’ I didn’t even get a chance to lock the door.”
That uncertainty continued as the months rolled by, unsure of whether they would be able to return to the Langford store. At the time of the fire, the store had only recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
“We closed in late March for almost two months. The beginning of the pandemic just shut down the comic book industry as a whole. So then we reopened in May, we were super excited, then had a job. We were already doing adjustments then. And it was only four or five months later, there was the fire. So it’s kind of a second gut punch,” said Layden. “So to be able to come back feels really good – to recover from that.”
Watson also runs a store downtown and another location in Nanaimo, which helped keep the dream of returning to Langford alive while they were waiting on repairs to the building.
“Pretty happy we were able to survive like during that time. Super lucky that we had our other store downtown because most of our super hardcore customers actually were able to come downtown during that time. So if we wouldn’t have had that, I don’t know what we would have done,” said Watson.
Both Layden and Watson said a lot of things have changed in Langford since 2020. Watson said with new housing and other developments like the post-secondary campus just down the road at the intersection of Goldstream Avenue and Peatt Road, it should be an exciting time for the comic book store.