Section: Features

Mount Vernon store offers big muscles in small boxes

Mount Vernon store offers big muscles in small boxes

Photo by Daniel De Andrade

By Frances Saux

Stepping into the store at 23 North Main Street in Mount Vernon feels like entering a collector’s hall closet. Small and dark, its walls loaded with action figures, Alicie’s Action Figure Frenzy acts half as a treasure trove for a niche market, half as the storage room for a growing collection .

“Opening the shop is an opportunity that I jumped at,” Steve Alicie, the store’s owner, said.

Every morning, Alicie arrives at the shop, packages orders he received the previous day and takes them to the post office. Though Alicie founded the business through eBay in 2006, his brick-and-mortar location in downtown Mount Vernon is only 18 months old; he estimated he still conducts 60 percent of his business online. Still, he has received a positive response from customers since opening the store.

“They say, ‘It’s about time we had a store like this,’” Alicie said. He noted that several Kenyon students have come in, including one who bought a Batman couch throw. Mainly, the shop attracts children, as well as a group of local action-figure collectors who, like him, have collected for years.

Alicie never expected his passion to develop into a business. Much of the store still reflects his original interest in wrestling figures, and miniature muscular men take up most of one wall, below several wrestling posters.

The store has also allowed him to connect with the community. During Mount Vernon’s downtown street fairs on the first Friday of every month, he sometimes invites wrestling legends to the shop for signings. Most recently was Jim Cornette, a wrestling manager, booker and commentator who currently acts as executive producer of the TV series Ring of Honor Wrestling.

But Alicie has expanded his shop in response to customer demand to include figures from a variety of worlds, including DC and Marvel. He also keeps up with current trends. Star Wars characters sit by the cash register in a nod to the recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“The next phenomenon is going to be Batman versus Superman,” Alicie said, “so I got that stuff.”

Alicie’s favorite action figure? A representation of himself. He indicated the package hanging on the back wall beneath a sign that read: “ITEMS ON THIS WALL ARE NOT FOR SALE.”

He took the package off its hook. Inside, a miniature Alicie stared straight ahead, his name written in large letters on the box. Alicie said he commissioned it; he sent the company pictures of himself from several angles, which it used to create the customized figure.

“It was not inexpensive,” he said, putting it back.

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