train tracks

Read our origin story

Like most good stories, it started with He-Man.

The author inside Castle Grayskull, circa 1984.
The author inside Castle Grayskull, circa 1984.

When I was 4 or 5 years old I started what would eventually be my first collection. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The greatest toy line of the 80s. I didn’t even play with them. I liked to pose them on my shelves and then dust them. Later on, whenever I went to the dentist and came out with no cavities I was allowed to go over to Eaton’s at Jackson Square in Hamilton and pick out one He-Man figure. I loved riding the old elevator with the wooden gate and the attendant who pushed the buttons for you. I never did get a cavity and I still collect He-Man to this day.

I was 10 or 11 when I got my first comic book. It was from a 7-11 spinner rack. I couldn’t decide on just one but my mom is awesome so she bought me one Green Lantern and one X-Men. Hal Jordan was my favourite Super Powers action figure and the X-Men had a cool Jim Lee cover that promised all sorts of thrills. The X-Men were fighting each other! By the age of 14, I had collected every issue of X-Men from #94 up.

When I was in high school in 1994 my friend Matt Schrock introduced us to this new card game called Magic: The Gathering during one of our AD&D sessions. I bought a few packs. It was fun. I traded all my childhood toys on for Beta Moxes, Mana Drains, and Juzam Djinni. He-Man was gone but I played Magic for the next 20 years.

Marc at Ontario Vintage Champs
Ontario Vintage Champs, 2005. Beta Black Lotus alert!

In 1996 I started running Magic tournaments at my local store in Hamilton called Big B Comics. Comics hadn’t interested me since some new artist named Joe Mad gave Magneto a ponytail, but this comic store had a dank basement with a few tables to gather around and play cards at so it became my home away from home.

In 1999 I created an account on a cool new site called eBay. The first thing I bought was a Super Powers Green Arrow. Then I bought back all my He-Men, plus the ones I never had as a child. Then I started buying big lots, keeping only the ones I needed, and reselling the rest. I was able to rebuild my collection on the cheap by becoming a mini dealer. Suddenly buying and selling toys and cards was almost as much fun as collecting them.

In June of 1999, Big B Comics moved from the dank basement location on King Street in Hamilton to a shiny new location on Hamilton mountain. Exactly 12 months later a position opened up and I went from volunteer/paid-in-chocolate-bars Tournament Organizer to a full-fledged employee. It has been my only job ever since.

Marc Sims & Walter Durajlija
Marc Sims and Walter Durajlija, Fan Expo 2008.

In a few months I was back into comics in a major way thanks to two men. Brian Michael Bendis and Garth Ennis. In early 2000 it seemed everything they touched was golden. Preacher, Ultimate Spider-Man, Punisher, Daredevil, Powers, War Stories. I loved them all. Here were comics that I could enjoy as an adult.

In 2005 original Big B Owner Walter Durajlija gave me a chance to buy into the business as a minority owner. He was splitting up with his former partner and here was an opportunity to take ownership of what had become my life and my passion. I said yes.

In 2007 our friend Dave Mackay put his business Blue Beetle Comics in Barrie up for sale. Dave ran a successful store but was busy with his full-time job and other passions. Blue Beetle had been in business for a few years and had a good customer base, a terrific staff, and a great new location on Essa road. Walter and I purchased Blue Beetle in January of 2008 and renamed it Big B Comics Barrie in 2011.

By 2012 we had grown to 3 stores with a new location in Niagara Falls. Business was good. Comics were booming. Box Office hits were driving people into our stores looking for all the cool pop culture stuff that Hollywood has become obsessed with. But for me, the spark was gone. I was spending more time dealing with the minutiae of running a 3 store chain than I was enjoying comics and collecting. I knew it was time for a change.

Cheers to the next chapter. Before the big move, June 2015.

Walter and I began discussions to dissolve our partnership. I wanted to pare down and get back to the roots of what I love about this industry and this hobby. It took a few years, but we eventually came to a series of deals that saw me selling my stake in the Hamilton and Niagara stores and assuming full control of the Barrie store.

Since July 1st, 2015, Big B Barrie has been a separate entity wholly owned by me. Walter’s Big B stores in Hamilton and Niagara continue to thrive and we are all still one happy family. We all look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.

In buying the store I also uprooted my entire life, selling my home, moving to Barrie, and starting completely fresh. It was a wonderful thing. The air was cleaner. The sky was brighter. The spark was officially back. It took some time to get all of my He-Men unpacked, but they are once again on display where I can dust them and pose them every day when I get home from work.

On January 17th, 2023, we made the biggest move of them all when we packed up the entire store and moved to our current location at 45 Essa Road in Barrie. Our new 2400 sq ft super store is the comic store I have always wanted to build all these many years. I took everything I had learned in 27 years of retailing and poured it all into this place. I am immensely proud of what we have built here and I hope you will come by the shop to enjoy it with me!

Marc Sims, February 2023