Saturday, July 3, 2010

Chronic Review: Dream Haven!

Dream Haven
2301 E 38th St
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Last episode Mike suggested that I needed to go visit Dream Haven again, because it had been a long time. (We're talking a decade or more) I was actually under the impression that it had folded.

I'm here to tell you that Dream Haven has not only avoided folding, but is in fact the coolest comic book shop in Minnesota.

You walk in there, and instantly it just feels right. I don't know what a non comics reader feels when he or she walks in the door. But I know that as a card carrying genre nerd, this store knows their clientele and have built an absolute shrine for them.

I think the magic of Dream Haven is that none of it feels corporate or plastic, but it largely avoids that sense of "froofy" pretension that I abhor. Items are loosely grouped in ways that make intuitive sense, but there is no sense that somebody got out a sterile chart and bricked out the store with it. Everything is....comfortably chaotic.

There is SO much to explore in that space. It isn't huge in terms of square footage, but there is a reasonably large selection of new comics, back issues, trades, novels, and paraphernalia. Dream Haven scratches a few niche itches that most comic shops do not. If you're interested in the pulp heroes, boy did you find your honey hole! If you like the old Universal monsters, the back corner is for you. (Remy would blow a gasket if he walked in there)

They carry a wide selection of fantasy and science fiction novels, and most of what they have is out of print. George RR Martin, HP Lovecraft, Dr. Who, Star Trek, it's all there in flavors that aren't available at a Barnes & Noble or even a shop like The Source. Dream Haven has a relationship with Neil Gaiman, and they have a ton of signed items available. That's pretty cool.

I have a kind of sixth sense, a heightened sense of anticipation whenever I walk into a previously unexplored bookstore. Dream Haven about popped my pineal gland, because you get the feeling that anything could be there. I don't care if you're a newbie or a seasoned book scout, when you visit that store you will see something that you didn't know existed, and it will set off your wonderment synapses.

It's all reasonably priced, and there are specials everywhere. That Spider-Woman HC with the motion comic DVD? I don't know if they ordered too many or if they just run deals, but that brand new $29.99 book was sitting on the shelf for less than ten dollars. Mine! They have a few long boxes of 1970s comics in ridiculously nice condition marked at way less than Overstreet. (Batman, Supergirl, Sgt. Fury, Defenders, World's Finest, you name it) I found a collection of "Tilting at Windmills" columns in a box marked down to $2, and snapped it up immediately.

The store has a pitch perfect attitude. When I walked in there, I was left to my own devices, but the help was very kind to me when I approached. I was privy to a pretty hilarious conversation in the back regarding polls demonstrating how stupid Americans are. Absolutely precious. When you get to the cash register, there is a small note posted that reads "We promise we will not interrupt your cell phone conversation. That would be rude." This is the comic shop I was born to patronize.

Dream Haven does offer a discount program. For $3 you get a 10% discount on anything in the store for three months. Needless to say I brought a stack of treasures up to the counter that made the discount card an easy decision.

I'm not sure that I have much to say about the downsides here. They don't have the trade selection that Big Brain does, they don't carry as many new books as The Source, they don't have the toys that Hot Comics carries. No comic shop is or should attempt to be comprehensive, though. Dream Haven gets all the important notes so very right. If you're in the metro and haven't checked in lately, do it yesterday.

- Ryan

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