BELOIT - David Loftus' customers at AK Comics are more than just people who buy comic books from him. They are friends.
"It's closer than a customer-seller relationship. We have conversations. I've been to their weddings and some funerals," Loftus said.
That is why it is difficult for him to close his business after more than 17 years in Beloit.
AK Comics, at 2000 Sutler Ave., in Morgan Square, is set to close in March. He is planning a clearance sale that will start in February and go through most of March, he said.
He will miss his customers, most of whom he sees regularly as they come in to pick up their regular comics from their "pull list." He said most of his customers are in their late 20s and older, and some have been customers for years.
"One started when he was in the eighth grade and now he's in college," Loftus said.
In addition to his comics and graphic novels featuring Superman, the Flash, Thor and Spiderman, he sells action figures and hero-related items. He also sells cards for Magic The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon games.
Loftus got started in the comic book selling business because he has had an interest in the comics since he was a boy.
"It's always been a love for me. I'm one of four kids and my dad was in the Navy. He would always come home with a bunch of comics he bought at the PX and he'd toss them on the end table," Loftus recalled.
He began collecting comics and finding new items to add to his collections.
Now, he decided it was time to call it quits at AK Comics.
"I'm not getting any younger, and I kind of want to do something else," he said.
But he's not abandoning his regular customers. He still will order comics for his regulars who have existing pull lists of their favorite titles. He just won't sell them at his store. He said he will keep in touch with his customers through his Facebook page and he will still continue to live in the Beloit area.