By Jerry Jones
The day before flocks of tourists descended on Grand Rapids during the start of ArtPrize, Vault of Midnight opened with a quiet yet firm mission: To bring geek culture to the mainstream of downtown Grand Rapids.
Featuring comics, board games, local art and collectors memorabilia, Vault of Midnight began with a flash.
“Seven days ago this place was completely empty,” says manager Nick Yribar on opening day, “We had been looking to expand into Grand Rapids, and when the opportunity came up, we had to act quickly”
This will be the second location of Vault of Midnight, which has gained widespread popularity in Ann Arbor for featuring comics and board games in a way that appeals to everyone from dedicated fans to casual shoppers. Their uniquely designed storefront is easily noticeable on 95 Monroe in downtown Grand Rapids. Everything from the outward design to the layout of the store is intended to be welcoming to fans of all levels.
“We want people to know that Vault of Midnight is for more than just hardcore fans, it’s for everybody,” Yribar said, “We have something for everyone. We like to think everyone loves comic books, they just don’t know it yet.”
Coming from Ann Arbor, Vault of Midnight owner Curtis Sullivan was searching for an area with the same potential as the bustling college town. They needed a city with a growing art scene and plenty of opportunity.
“We had a successful store along Main Street in Ann Arbor, and we started to think, why was it so successful? We kept coming back to the location and the walk by traffic,” Sullivan tells me, “Good beer, good coffee, museums, venues. The similarities between Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids were striking.”
Once decided, the process moved quickly.
“A year ago we had this idea. Ninety days ago we decided to make it official and seven days ago, we began building the store. Grand Rapids is picking up incredibly. The culture is exploding and we knew Vault of Midnight would do well here, we also knew we would have to move fast,” Yribar said.
The current culture of art and geek agrees. Opening day was chaotic as a steady stream of customers paraded into the shop. Although not the first comic shop to enter Grand Rapids, its entry as an already well-established store to the downtown lineup means a lot for Grand Rapids residents and the expansion of the city.
“We want every human being in Grand Rapids to walk through these doors and get to experience Vault of Midnight,” explained Sullivan.
“Were excited for the future of both the store and the city,” Yibar said.
Judging from opening day foot traffic, it seems Grand Rapids is, too.