FOREST HILLS, Queens — For more than 25 years, Royal Collectibles in Forest Hills has provided an escape from the trials and tribulations of the real world.
From comic books and graphic novels to toys and collectible figurines — paying a visit to the Metropolitan Avenue shop feels like stepping into a time machine.
Despite the cosmic ambiance, shop manager Bob Lazauskas told PIX11 about a year ago, the storyline was gloom and doom.
“It was all panic, we tried to sell as much stuff as we could before the last day,” Lazauskas recalled.
A statewide shut down meant the business, which thrived solely from in-person shopping, could not open their doors.
In a Hail Mary move, they turned to Instagram.
“So we would do these [Instagram] live sales and focus on a product or a group of products like Funko Pop!, new comic books,” he explained. “People would claim them, pay through Venmo or PayPal and we would ship it to them.”
The marketing plon proved to be successful, completely changing the dynamic of the shop. It also spawned off what has now become a weekly — and profitable — series on the store’s Instagram page.
Lazauakas credits loyal customers for turning it all around.
“You know we sell superhero stuff and in times of darkness, heroes come together and fight the villain — and that’s exactly what happened,” he said.
As New York City’s reopening continues, it’s full steam ahead for the family-owned business.
Despite the setbacks, COVID-19 turned out to pack a lesser punch than kryptonite on the Royal team.
“We are all overworked, we are all tired, we are all running around,” he said, “but [the pivot was] the best thing we ever did and we don’t want to stop doing it.”
96-01 Metropolitan Ave.
Forest Hills, NY 11375