On this week’s business spotlight, we’re going to take a look at a beloved niche store in Mississauga: Image Collections.

Located in Streetsville, along Queen Street beside I.D.A Robinson’s Pharmacy, you’ll find a Spider-Man cut-out, next to a little door covered in posters and leaflets. That door is a rather literal gateway to another world, one full of comics, games, and socializing.

Image Collections is one of only a handful of dedicated comic book stores in Mississauga but it’s also one of the best and has been serving the community for over 25 years. For what it’s worth, Chapters does indeed sell comic volumes and graphic novels but we’re talking about a real comic store with weekly stock updates of all things DC, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, IDW, and, of course, Image Comics.

Comic books have a long and storied history, with the medium always finding it hard to shake the moniker of “for kids”. Anyway who has read comics however will know that it’s a fantastic medium that tells incredible stories with some of the best characters ever created. And it isn’t just Batman, Spider-Man and Judge Dredd (although those are amazing), comics are often so much more. Many of your favourite movies are based on comics and there are a plethora of non-superhero graphic novels that would blow your mind in their story and emotional depth – for examples, check out Blankets by Craig Thompson, Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughn, Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley, The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire, and Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fione Staples. And those are just the tipping point of a massive medium you may be missing out on.

So, why not head on over to Image Collections to start your journey into the world of comics, or continue the one you’re already on. The store is a paradise of comics, art, collectables, and gaming. Once you’re inside you’ll probably be taken aback by just how big it is, considering the simple doorway you enter through – right here I will avoid a very obvious Narnia joke, you’re welcome. Comic books, t-shirts and figures adorn every possible space of the store and it would be easy to feel lost, were it not for the very welcoming and helpful staff who work within. One problem I find with some comic stores, no finger-pointing, is that they have a set-consumer base and appear rather unwelcoming or stand-off-ish when you enter as a fresh face, however Image Collections is the exact opposite. You’re greeted with a smile and a well of knowledge that you can use to help your journey.

Beyond the books themselves, Image Collections is a unique and awesome store because it not only encourages social gatherings but it also promotes the work of local talent. On the ceiling of the store you’ll find artwork from local artists and aspiring writers, who come to the store on a monthly basis for meet-ups to grow and learn and polish their craft. On top of that, almost every day of the week Image Collections hosts board/card game tournaments. Locals and staff members engage in lengthy battles of Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, World of Warcraft, and more – and if you rolled your eyes when you read that just think about how much you enjoy Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity, or poker.

Image Collections is a chaotic, mind-melting environment of superheroes, lovers, warriors, trolls, teenagers, animals, Gods, and everything in between. There is literally something for everyone and I encourage anyone who hasn’t ever read a comic, to give it a shot and you’ll be surprised. Image Collections is one of Mississauga’s finest comic stores for its wealth of choice, amazing staff, and encouragement of local talent. It’s a local business that ticks all the boxes that we want to see a store have to grow and succeed. And with 25 years under its belt, Image Collections isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so come on out and have some fun.