We had the good fortune of connecting with Morgan Albritton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Morgan, what do you want your legacy to be?
I would like folks to remember that I created the first female owned comic book store in Western North Carolina and it functioned with the belief that we can be fair and honest with everyone- and still make money. That despite wild clothes, makeup, haircolor, etc. (or being your typical anxiety ridden nerd) I was someone that you could 100% trust to follow through with what I believed was the “good side of the force” choice. That I worked really really hard and was always really really good to everyone who came into my Nerd Sanctuary. I have been described as Harley Quinn styled with the ethics and moral grounding of Wonder Woman and Mr. Rogers.
Which means that I was there: when someone needed a shoulder to cry on, needed me to stand up and defend them in court, needed me to host a memorial, to find an obscure book that they used to own when they were a kid, when they needed me to plan their wedding, or to sing and dance as a super hero (delivering comics for their kids’ birthday), etc. All as the owner of their Friendly Neighborhood comic book store in West Asheville North Carolina.
I connected our customers with the geeky wants that helped make their days more exciting/joyful & I encouraged a youthful enthusiasm for life by “nerding it out” with like-minded folks of all ages.
Rather than primarily sealing comics & toys in plastic (in hopes that they accrue value) I surrounded us in Nerd genres that brought people together. To make friends, to share our stories and develop our imaginations. “Bringing Nerds Together, That’s What We Do.”
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
During the pandemic I applied for assistance to recover as a woman led company. They informed us that women are almost 60% of the workforce but barely 35% of the business owners.. (We were approved for the grant)
Examples of hardships: Regularly I will experience older men, especially white older men living what we call “Asheville Confidence”. Where even if they are quite a bit older, married, their partner is present, they know I’m married, etc. they somehow feel like they can strong arm women while holding a position of “power” such as landlords, bosses, customers with rare or vintage merchandise for sale, etc. To touch someone inappropriately, say dirty sexual words, belittle a woman’s intelligence, etc. and behave like it is in any way okay to do these things.
In my position, I’ve regularly had men (and sometimes women too) automatically imply that I “can’t make my business flourish” or that I must not be the boss of this company. They want to “speak to the man in charge.”
Even regardless of me as a person, my store “Morgan’s Comics”, represents a name that means, “a powerful symbol of feminist strength and benevolence, intent upon finding justice in a lopsided world.” It is quite appropriate to be the first female owned comic shop in our area and I am thrilled that the community of Asheville (and her visitors) are helping to make us a staple, mainstay, pillar of this town. And in return I will ALWAYS stand up for everyone- especially ladies facing the hardships I’ve described above.
I always say that we take care of each other. I could work as many hours as I want but if folks didn’t also love the Nerd Sanctuary we wouldn’t have made it this far. We need that protection so that we can continue providing a safe, all inclusive space for all folks who need to visit to “take a break from regular reality” amidst our diverse array of geeky delights.
And to narrow that gender/ownership gap.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start with meeting them at my Nerd Sanctuary. As I said, it is popularly known as a fun, colorful, intriguing and friendly space where visitors often spend a hour perusing. Then I would take them next door to our neighbors who own the Local 604 Bottle Shop to pick up some fancy craft beer. After that, I would take them to Zia’s Tacos for dinner. I love living in these blue mountains so the next day we’d go up to Craggy Pinnacle. The views are incredible there. When we got home we would take in a movie at Asheville Pizza and Brewing.
The next day we would get decked out and tour all of the fun downtown shops like the Chocolate Fetish and eat dinner at Bouchon. I’m not usually much into clubs or loud bars and since the pandemic I have less idea of what fun venues in downtown Asheville are available.
The next day we would go van camping at Max Patch. It is one of the most peaceful places that I have ever seen. We’d grill out, fly kites, play frisbee and maybe even do some fishing.
The next day we’d travel up to the Pisgah National Park so that we could eat at the Bean Trees right on the TN/ NC line. They have a large porch area next to the river and the company is woman led. There are many great vistas along this path and if we continued into Pigeon Forge we may even go to some of the touristy spots like Wonderworks.
The next day we would head over to Bryson City because I love abandoned locations. “The Road to Nowhere” has such a tragic story and is beautiful in the way that nature is taking back over the last tunnel through the mountain and it is eerily painted with graffiti. If we hiked for hours from there we would come to the ruins of the town of Proctor (which is completely abandoned and where my husband, Matt, and I got married during the pandemic).
In the morning we would have breakfast at Wyn’s Diner because it is homey and a traditional bacon, eggs & French toast kind of space. Then we would tour all over West Asheville. That way my friend could see the other great spots along Haywood Road (just down the road from my store). Orbit DVD, Dobra Tea House, the HOP icecream, Retrocade, etc. West Asheville feels the most like home to be because it is beautiful with it’s elaborate graffiti art, the buildings are mostly very old & it has some beautiful mountain views around it. The whole area is weird enough that that you could pass an adult wearing a footed Pikachu onsie walking down the main road!
I feel like that used up our whole week together but there are soo many more fun spots to catch the next time around! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I learned a bunch from my Dad about working really hard for everything you have and to figure out a way to make things work instead expecting someone else to come along and fix it for you and from my Mom I learned to stand strong by what I believe. From them both I developed my love of collecting stories- especially from those I talk to about their lives and adventures. Then my older brother, Les, was a huge role-model to me in my youth. He is 7 years older than me and I was like his sidekick for most of my teens and 20’s. He is strong, extremely intelligent, well spoken, charismatic, charming and protective of his family.
Mr. Rogers: A little girl once told me I was like a Wonder Woman Mister Rogers. It was such a kind compliment (especially from one so young) that I got it on the back of my neck as the only tattoo I’ve ever gotten. In fact the very first photo of me when applying to do the job I now have made my career of is of me in a black business blazer with a tan Mr. Rogers “You are Special” t-shirt underneath. And, though, I am not largely religious, I do believe absolutely in taking the time to be a little more patient and generous to those around me to hopefully brighten their day a bit.
Jean-Luc Picard: From watching how his character behaved in Star Trek The Next Generation I learned to be very dedicated professionally, to be diplomatic and hold close to my ethics.
Vash the Stampede: From Vash I learned that you can be silly and awkward and still be a total brilliant bad@#%. That it is important to always to look for a way that everyone can win. To save everyone.