Downtown Fargo is full of businesses serving everything from vintage clothing to records, delicious ice cream to tasty coffee, and yes, comic books. Paradox Comics-N-Cards has been providing people with adventures and games since 1993, and they’ve got a supportive community and solid reputation to show for it.
When owner of Paradox Comics-NCards Richard Early was 23-years-old, he decided to leave college and pursue a career in something that he was no stranger to.
“I had a lifelong comic collection, I went to a small local convention and I sold some of my comics there for the first time. And honestly, it was one of the first times in my life that I ever felt good, and I’d say even competent, about something I could do. So I basically chased that,” Richard said. “You know, that whole [idea about taking] the thing that you love as a kid, if you could turn that into your job— that’s absolutely true and very rewarding.” Richard had just left school and, with his business partner at the time, opened Paradox Comic-NCards. In their first year of operation, they moved around to a few different locations and in 1994, settled in the spot that they call home still to this day. On Roberts Street, up a short set of stairs and through a tall door, you’ll find a gateway to a paradox. As for what’s inside, you’ll find shelves full of stories, boxes stacked with games and just about any other comic or game-related hobby merchandise.
Anyone opening a business has to know or at least be able to learn, the basics. One thing that Richard learned very early on, and has still kept as a key part of the business today, was the skill to adapt.
“The truth is, you’re just constantly adapting. The customer base is always changing. [For] comics, there are a lot of older customers, but now we also have a whole new young generation… and I see both sides of it,” Richard explained. “The key is just adapting.”
Of course, Paradox stocks the classics and comics that come from bigger publishers like Marvel, DC and others, as well as Japanese comics called manga, but they also work with creators who self-publish. Along with comics, you can find Magic the Gathering cards, Pokemon cards and many board games on the shelves inside too. Richard said he uses customer feedback and general industry knowledge to figure out what to stock his shelves with.
“When I started off, you were a little more out in a void, because you couldn’t really get information the same way you can today. Now, one of the funny things is our customers often know things long before we do. So they’ll come in and ask us about something that was announced that morning on a Twitter feed that we didn’t see yet, and we’re caught off guard thinking, ‘I didn’t know that existed!.”
Those situations are when being adaptable is important. A large influence on what you can find at the store actually comes from the employees. Some employees enjoy independent comics, whereas others really enjoy manga; so the store sells those knowing employees will connect with customers through their shared interests.
The business has its retail shop right through the front door and features comics, games, cards, an entire wall full of paintable figurines and much more. Follow a labyrinth of twists and turns, and you’ll find that Paradox also has a back gaming room where they host ticketed events.
Currently, there are games hosted Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Paradox, and Richard hopes to see more in the future. The room’s capacity is currently 72 to 90 people and features specialty-built card game tables and a command center stocked with merchandise, booster packs and supplies for tournaments.
Richard has hosted games in his shop from the beginning and the community that has formed is proof of the store’s adoration.
“I’m lucky to be a part of what they do, it’s not the other way around. If we didn’t have those community leaders, we wouldn’t have Pokemon and Magic and D&D. It takes someone to step up and be the Dungeon Master, someone to volunteer to run a Pokemon tournament, and the same for 1,000 other card games and games…,” Richard said. “I had tables in my game store since 1993, so I’ve had generations of people form relationships here. We’ve had people get married, we’ve watched people have kids who then graduate from college; we’ve been part of their lives, but they’ve chosen us, not the other way around. I’ve had people come do their high school graduation photos here. I had one couple do their wedding photos here. No matter what I did, if they weren’t coming in and doing those things, it wouldn’t matter.”
The back gaming room is stocked with whatever you might need during a tournament, including snacks! But what makes it special are the customized gaming tables. The tables are eight feet long and are specifically designed for card playing
26 Roberts St N,
PARADOX MAY GAME SCHEDULE
TUESDAYS 5:00-9:00 PM & FRIDAYS 5:00-11:30 PM:
Magic the Gathering: Commander
FRIDAYS 6:30 AM-11:30 PM:
Magic the Gathering: Streets of New Capenna Draft
IFRIDAYS 6:30-11:30 PM:
Magic the Gathering: Modem
FRIDAYS 6:30-11:30 PM:
Magic the Gathering: Standard
SATURDAY, MAY 7, 12:00-11:30 PM:
Crazy 8: Commander Legends Draft
SATURDAY, MAY 7, 2:00-10:00 PM:
May Tabletop Day
FRIDAY, MAY 13, 6:30-11:30 PM:
Crazy 8: FNM Last Chance Qualifier Modern
SATURDAY, MAY 14, 12:00-6:00 PM:
Streets of New Capenna Game Day – Free Standard
SATURDAY, MAY 14, 12:00-11:30 PM:
Crazy 8: The Final Table
SATURDAY, MAY 21, 12:00-10:00 PM:
May Dungeons and Dragons Day