Southern Fried Comics to shut its doors

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Southern Fried Comics, a mainstay in Downtown Hattiesburg for the past eight years, will be shutting its doors at the end of December. In preparation of closing the store, owner Barry Herring has implemented “SFC’s Sale to End All Sales,” a sale that took place from Nov. 23 and Nov. 24.

“It is a sale to end all sales because it is the last sale we’ll have,” Herring said. “And that’s going on now and will end on Dec. 30.”

Herring encourages people to keep watching the Southern Fried Comics Facebook page about the sale. At the time of the interview, everything (except for new releases) was set to be 25 percent off, but by the time of the sale, the discount was changed to 40 percent.

“Ninety-nine percent of the comics that come into a comic book shop are non-returnable,” Herring said.  “The graphic novels that don’t sell, I plan on donating. I have donated in the past to the public library downtown, so that’s what I plan on doing with the stuff that doesn’t sell. But I hope people will see the sale and come out, especially when it ramps up.”

The news of SFC’s closing came as a shock to many frequent customers. Kyle Wittlief, employee of the neighboring Southbound Bagel Shop, said he was disappointed to hear of SFC’s closing.

“The thing I’ve always liked about that comic book shop is it didn’t feel like an elitist comic book shop where if you didn’t know your stuff you got a cold shoulder from the person behind the counter,” Wittlief said. “Barry was never like that. He was always super nice and super helpful. He was the kind of guy that if you walked in there, and you didn’t even like comic books, he could help you walk out of there with a comic book. He was just good at helping people find what they wanted before they even knew what they came in there for. “

“I’m going to miss going over there after work and giving my tip money for comics and stuff,” Wittlief added. “I’m bummed, but I’m excited for him to be able to go and do something. Ultimately, if he’s happy, I’m happy. But yeah, we’re losing one of our cohorts down here, and that’s never fun.”

Kiley Sharp, friend of Herrings, said SFC gave him a sense of renewal.   

“[SFC] kind of renewed my faith in comics altogether,” Sharp said. “It is an impeccable store with a knowledgeable owner who doesn’t mind talking to his customers. It will definitely be missed. I don’t know if I will continue to read comics because it isn’t here anymore. “

Longtime SFC customer Stephen Erikson said the store has had an impact on him and his brother.

“Southern Fried Comics was a place that took time to get to know their customers,” Erikson said. “They went out of their way to learn your likes and dislikes, so they could provide a more personal and friendly experience. The atmosphere was amazing. No one was friendlier, and to me it was one of the highlights of Downtown Hattiesburg while it was open.”

When asked what the best part of operating Southern Fried Comics has been, Herring said has been the people he has met.

“It’s really, honest to God, no joke, it’s the people,” Herring said. “It’s freaky to think that after closing, who will I not meet, but yeah, it’s the people. I’ve met so many great people and made a lot of great friends, and it’s because of the store.”

For more information about Southern Fried Comics and The Sale to End All Sales, check their Facebook page or visit them at their store downtown.