As you enter That’s Entertainment and walk down the long, heavily decorated hallway, it almost feels like you’re heading into another world. Once you enter the store itself, you feel like you’ve just walked into the basement of your cool best friend who collects absolutely everything. Prepare to spend a few hours exploring the shop, because you’re absolutely right; That’s Entertainment really does have absolutely everything.
Appropriately situated on the corner of Park Avenue and Lois Lane (the store successfully petitioned the city of Worcester to get the alley next to them, Marmon Place, changed to Lois Lane in 2012), That’s Entertainment (or That’s E, if you’re feeling affectionate or short on time) is a comic book fan’s dream store.
Actually, scratch that–That’s E is anybody’s dream store.
Although the shop’s main staple is comic books, That’s E prides itself on being not just a comic shop, but a pop culture emporium. Nestled among the comics are records, DVDs, toys, games (video, board, and card), and sports memorabilia, making it a haven for a wide variety of collectors.
It’s also a place where everyone can feel welcome and comfortable–everyone who works there has one goal in mind: to foster quality relationships with their customers and ensure that they leave the store happier than they were when they came in. Marketing/Event Coordinator and Board Game Specialist at That’s E Sorana Gatej explains, “The store works hard to create a friendly, inviting, all-inclusive atmosphere. [We] also host many free, all-ages events which anyone can attend.”
That’s E really is everything a comic shop should be. Whether their particular expertise lies in indie comics, records, or Magic cards, the employees have no interest in shaming or gatekeeping; instead, they’re just eager to share what they love with others.
“One of my favorite parts about working at That’s Entertainment is helping customers, especially in the board game department. Being a board game enthusiast myself, it brings me joy to help bring the gaming community closer together and to strike gaming interest in new customers. I love giving recommendations and finding that perfect game for someone’s game night,” said Gatej.
In addition to the free, all-ages events Gatej mentioned, the store also has a heavy involvement in the community. According to Gatej, That’s E “helps bring the people of Worcester closer together by creating a sense of home for all its customers. For some folks, That’s Entertainment is the place people go to talk about your interests with other like-minded individuals, or to decompress after a hard day’s work.”
They’re the place to be every first Saturday in May for Free Comic Book Day and the third Saturday in April for Record Store Day, are a staple at the local art fair stART on the Street, and also host face painting, costume contests, gaming tournaments, artist and musician appearances, midnight releases, and more. Local artists also know that they have a home at That’s E–the store features a section devoted to the work of Worcester-area talent, from artists to writers and musicians.
Worcester isn’t the only one who realizes the impact That’s E has had on the community–in 1997, the store won a “Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award,” which is essentially the comic book equivalent of an Oscar. The award recognizes “an individual retailer who has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.”
Thinking back, That’s E is the first place where I really felt comfortable and encouraged in liking the things that I do. From going there as a kid to attending an after-hours Harry & the Potters concert in my teens, to working there for a summer during college, and now writing about just how much I love it there, I feel like I’ve grown up with That’s E.
That’s Entertainment recently celebrated their thirtieth year in business; if we’re lucky, they’ll be around for another thirty years, and a new generation will get to experience everything that comic shops should be–safe, friendly, and fun.
Allison Racicot is the Audiobook & Podcast Reviewer at Girls in Capes. She spends too much time listening to podcasts, and enjoys reading, writing, comedy, and getting overly attached to fictional characters. If you like tweets that regularly consist of fangirling over Hamilton, comic books, and comedians, you can follow her on Twitter @allisonracicot.