Comic book and pop-culture store Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash West reopens today at its new location.
Owned by director Kevin Smith, Secret Stash closed its Westwood doors in early October after former manager Bryan Johnson opted out of his position and relocated to Laser Blazer, a DVD store in Los Angeles.
According to Ron Dassa, Laser Blazer owner and new manager of Secret Stash, Johnson quit to focus on making movies full-time. Smith, who stated in his blog that he prefers to keep his stores under the management of close friends, did not have a replacement manager in mind.
When Dassa learned that Smith, a long-time customer of Laser Blazer, was closing down Secret Stash, he suggested an idea to the director.
“I e-mailed him and said, “˜Hey, why don’t you move into the store? I’ve got space for you. It would be a great way of keeping the Stash on the West side with the addition of DVDs in the mix,’” Dassa said.
Upon Smith’s agreement to the proposition, Dassa began renovating his store to make space, enlarging the back to fit all of Secret Stash’s goods in one large room. Though the area is smaller than the original store, most of the memorabilia from Secret Stash’s old location has made the transition to Laser Blazer.
Ben Affleck’s wings from the movie “Dogma,” which Smith directed and wrote, are now on display in the DVD store’s lobby, and the Westwood store’s Secret Stash sign now adorns the new comics section in Laser Blazer.
Additionally, former Secret Stash clerk Albert Garcia was invited to work at the new location with the intent of greeting customers with a familiar face.
Dassa, who has run his store for about 20 years, based the decision to invite Smith’s store into Laser Blazer on the belief that customers of both stores share the same interests. He said the deal would most likely be beneficial to both parties and could generate more revenue for Secret Stash in the long run.
“Both of us instantly have a new customer base ““ he has my customers, and I have his customers, so it’s a win-win for both of us,” Dassa said.
The new location would also broaden Secret Stash’s customer base to movie fans in Los Angeles instead of just Westwood residents and UCLA students, who often “don’t have that expendable income.”
However, as the store is now located in Los Angeles instead of Westwood, some students who used to shop at Secret Stash are a little inconvenienced when it comes to purchasing their weekly comics.
Julie Guan, a third-year biology student, said the thought of having to bus down to the new location was off-putting.
“It’s just a hassle because (the old) Secret Stash was a walkable distance,” Guan said. She said she would rather wait until she goes home for the weekends and drive to the comic book store near her house.
Other students mirrored her sentiment, including Marissa Minna Lee, a fourth-year English and creative writing student.
Lee, a member of the science fiction, fantasy, horror and gaming club Enigma, said she used to visit the store every week, a habit that is now more difficult to maintain.
“It’s obviously less convenient because we can’t go every Wednesday when comics come out, but at least we still have a Secret Stash here,” Lee said.
She added that Enigma was planning a group trip to the new location sometime next quarter and would have to drive down.
Though the official reopening of Secret Stash in Laser Blazer is today, a special opening event is planned for early December.
Smith himself has not confirmed whether he will be at Laser Blazer today, as he is scheduled to be filming a project in Pittsburgh for the next three months, but Dassa did not rule out the possibility of the director making an appearance.