For the past 27 years, Golden Apple has been nothing less than a Los Angeles comics institution. November 1st, 2006 marked the dawning of a new age of the Golden Apple, as they celebrated their grand re-opening at their new location at 7018 Melrose in Los Angeles, California, and CBR News was on the scene.
A product of the blood, sweat and tears of the late Bill Liebowitz and his wife Sharon, the upkeep of Golden Apple is still a family affair. When Bill unexpectedly passed on two years ago, his son, Ryan Liebowitz, relocated his family from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to help his mother run the business.
Dozens of comics fans lined up to catch a glimpse of the gentleman who was scheduled to preside over the ribbon cutting ceremony, the man himself, Mr. Stan Lee. And the Liebowitz's did not disappoint. But before the man of the hour did his thing with the scissors, Ryan and Sharon Liebowitz invoked the name of the store's dear departed proprietor, and thanked their customers for years of loyalty.
"After my dad passed, I spent a while just trying to clean up the store, put in all these new fixtures, and really make it look as nice as possible," Ryan told the crowd. "Unfortunately, you can only do so much with the canvass that I had to paint with." Their old location, while beloved, does not hold a candle to their new digs, according to management, employees and customers alike. "I hope when you guys come in here, you can see the vision that we had when I started reconstructing the old store, I really wanted it to look like this."
Store employees had been working overtime for days getting the new location ready for opening day, along with a number of loyal customers who volunteered their services to help ease the transition. "I want to say a quick thank you to my awesome staff," said Ryan. "I asked a lot of them. We literally did this in four days. So thank them when you see them for what a great job they did." And there was not a dearth of help: In no particular order, Mark McBride, Michael Johnson, Shane Coleman, Tamara Jones, Tina Martin, James Shroeder, Clay Cobb, Tony Edwards, Dylan Battles and Clare Grant spent November 1st manning the registers, stocking the shelves and recording the event for posterity.
"I also really wanted to thank some of the friends of the Apple," Ryan told the crowd. "Since we've been around for so long, we have so many great friends, and industry professionals and customers, and some of those people are all those three things. And they stepped up to help us." Ryan then gave a shout out to the camera-shy Marc Andreyko, and the other friends of the store who volunteered their time to help get the new store up and running. One local youth even showed up with a signed note from his mother, excusing him from school so he could take in the event.
Bill Liebowitz's widow had to fight back tears as she recounted the story of how her son stepped up to fill the void left by Bill's absence. "Two years ago, Bill died suddenly, and my incredible son and his beautiful wife said, 'We're coming,'" Sharon Liebowitz said. "They had wonderful careers and a happy life and a beautiful home, and they gave it all up to help me."
Then Sharon relinquished the stage to the man, the icon, Stan Lee. "I'm changing my name to Stan Icon," the man behind Marvel quipped. "One of these days I'm gonna get a dictionary and see what that whole icon thing means." The always-humble comics legend admitted to having a soft spot for Golden Apple. "The store looks beautiful, and I would go broke if I had more time to spend here. Everything looks great, especially the stuff I wrote, of course." And no Stan Lee appearance would be complete without a boisterous, "Excelsior!" which Stan provided in earnest.
The floodgates now open, dozens of customers flocked into the new store and were anything but stingy when it came to purchasing its wares. And while the usual suspects crowded the aisles of the new Apple, Christopher Dennis, the Superman of Hollywood Blvd., was pounding the pavement out front trying to round up some new regulars. And he wasn't alone. Wonder Woman, Supergirl and the incredible Hulk were out there turning heads, and shepherding many a hapless L.A. denizen into the bustling comic shop. Dennis and company wear their full superhero regalia day in and day out, making their living taking pictures with tourists in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd in exchange for tips, but on November 1st they had a one-day-only engagement at the new Golden Apple.
Hugh Sterbakov and Seth Green came out to show their support, and to promote their new book, "The Freshmen II," the first issue of which hit stands that very day. The two sold many a signed copy of the first series trade, and the "Freshmen II" limited edition Wizard World Texas variant.
David Mack and Mandy Amano also lent their support, meeting and greeting fans at the back of the store. Mack, in town for a number of speaking engagements at local schools, had "Kabuki" aplenty on hand, along with a bevy of original artwork, and graciously signed small stacks of comics for many a satisfied customer.
Bill Liebowitz may not have been able to be there to see the new Apple, but one thing's for sure: He would have been proud.