Oct. 22 2008 12:00 AM

Capital moves


When you walk into Capital City Collectibles, you get hit with a smell that’s like 1 million pages of science fiction novels and comic books piled up against each other.

Pages of colorful ink are preserved in crisp Mylar and sandwiched together in wooden bookcases and cardboard boxes. And for a whole group of people out there, that smell is an aphrodisiac that incites the urge to crack open the pages of a fresh — or perhaps Golden Age — superhero epic and just get lost. “It’s so much nostalgia; it’s awesome,” said Trevor Bancroft, who was browsing the store on a recent day. “For any geek, it’s a treasure chest of old and new (collectibles).”

That collection, which owner Stephen Jahner, estimates at more than 75,000 pieces, will have to shrink shortly. After five years at 2016 E. Michigan Ave., Capital City Collectibles is moving a few blocks away to a smaller location because the building whose first floor he leases has been sold. So, between now and the end of the month, Capital City will be having a massive sale to get rid of inventory as well as an auction on Oct. 30. At his new location, at 1723 E. Michigan, the plan is to have a more focused, accessible stock.

On Friday, Jahner was sorting through his comics for duplicates, sending redundancies to the dollar-bin, even if they are worth up to $20. The majority of the store’s non-comic stock is discounted up to 50 percent. The price of comic and cartoon art hanging on the walls can be negotiated with Jahner, who has made a further offer to literacy institutions.

“If any schools or libraries are interested, I’d be very willing to donate books to them for free,” he said. However, a simple move down the street isn’t going to get in the way of some of the store’s dedicated customers. “I’ve been a consistent customer for decades, and CCC has been a supporter of our collection,” said Randall Scott, who works at the Michigan State University library and was browsing the store recently. “It’s the closest thing we’ve got to a good oldfashioned comic book store in the area. When they move, I’ll still be coming in, makes no difference to me the location.”

Capital City began its life in 1973 as the Book Exchange before moving to its current block. Jahner describes the Michigan Avenue of that time as Lansing’s answer to New York’s bohemian East Village. The store, then known as Capital City Comics and the Book Exchange, became a fixture on the block until Jahner’s business partnership dissolved in 2002. Taking his share of the stock, Jahner reopened three doors down as Capital City Collectibles the following year. Describing his customers and staff as “family,” Jahner moves through the store not at all like a man facing a deadline. In between handing a customer his weekly comic arrivals and chatting with another near the back of the store, Jahner pauses as one of his family prepares to leave, offering his condolences for the store.

“I don’t have problems,” says Jahner, shaking his head, “I have possibilities.” (Eric Gallippo and Jahshua Smith contributed to this story.)

Capital City Collectibles

2016 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing. Noon to 7 p.m. daily. Auction 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30. (517) 487-0717