Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games, located at 110 W. State St., is your one-stop-shop for all things comic, gaming, and pop-culture related. Owner Tom Milster has been in the heart of Downtown O’Fallon for nearly three years but his love for toys and “geek” culture goes back much further.
In his late teens, Milster visited a bookstore where he found a copy of the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns. The story inside moved Milster, who found it more interesting and psychological than other comics, and a new hobby was born that ultimately led him to Downtown O’Fallon.
Always interested in pop culture, Milster worked in radio and lived around the country before landing back in his hometown of Belleville, Illinois. One day while visiting the Belleville Flea Market, Milster found a bag of about 20 Star Wars figurines he remembered well from his childhood and, much like his experience with The Dark Knight Returns, he was drawn in and soon turned his nostalgia into a career. Milster started buying and selling toys and related items at the Belleville Flea Market where he met his future O’Fallon landlord, Ginger Kammler.
Milster was gaining success with his business and was searching the area for a brick-and-mortar location when a recommendation was made to come to O’Fallon. A drive around Downtown and a “for rent” sign brought him back to Kammler. From here things moved very quickly and within 90 days Milster was open for business in his own shop. According to Milster, everything just fell into place and feels like it was meant to be.
There are multiple comic and game shops in the area, but Milster says this has never been an issue. Instead, he has been amazed at the level of cooperation among the comic book and game stores. Each shop has a specialty and is knowledgeable about the offerings found at other stores. Shops will refer customers to one another to make sure customers find what they are looking for.
As the name suggests, Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games specializes in comics, toys, and games. They are also the place to go to sell and trade. Prior to a physical store, Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games’ customers were mostly adults aged 35 and up. The Downtown O’Fallon store now catches the eye of kids walking by after school, too! Window displays include Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Funko Pop items that are popular with kids and adults alike. For Milster, this is very reminiscent of his own childhood experience visiting “RJ’s Variety” – his own local store. Milster is honored and moved by the knowledge that his own store will live on in these kids’ memories forever, just like his own memories of RJ’s Variety. Another rewarding aspect of business ownership has been the ability to mentor employees, giving two individuals their very first job.
Like most business owners, Milster had great concerns about the pandemic, but his resourcefulness led him to expand his sales on eBay, Whatnot, Amazon, and Facebook Live. Online sales that were necessary and successful during the worst of the pandemic are now a huge part of his business!
Milster stated the online sales have had an unexpected but wonderful side effect – a sense of community with a wide range of individuals across the country. Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games, while based in O’Fallon, has sold products coast to coast and Milster is thankful for the experience to connect with people all over the world. Milster is also thankful for the support and sense of community within the Downtown District and “can’t say enough about how great a place this is to open a business.”
So, whether you are in search of old video games, comic books, the toys of your past or toys of the present, Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games should be first on your list of places to look. Considering a little spring cleaning and want to see if your old comics are worth anything? Stop by Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games and strike up a conversation – you might just find a new community of friends in the process!
Visit Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games at 110 W. State Street or check out their Facebook Page here!