Taylor Blasco, 17, will host a grand opening of Ormond Beach's newest comic book and video game shop, Nerdtropolis, Saturday at 1459 N. U.S. 1.
BY PAULA BUCK | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Taylor Blasco is like any other business owner. He has a vision and he sees it clearly. He's experienced his "ah-ha!" moment. He's the master of his own fate.
Blasco is exactly the same as any aspiring entrepreneur — except that he's 17 years old.
“I love business, and I love games and comics," he said, standing in the new Nerdtropolis, at 1459 N. U.S. 1. "It suddenly occurred to me that I should open my own store. So I did.”
Bright, colorful and trendy, the inside of Nerdtropolis is the real-life vision of Blasco's dream. Perfectly arranged comic books, video games, anime and manga (a Japanese form of serialized fiction) fill the space. There's even pop-culture T-shirts, Super Mario backpacks and stuffed "Star Wars" characters for sale.
But make no mistake: This is no kids' shop.
“People may be surprised to hear that our main demographic will not be children," Blasco said. "It will include men and women aged 21-45. Gaming is an expensive hobby."
Interest in these alternate-reality concepts is increasing, and Blasco's counting on it continueing to do so in his business projections.
“This year, the profits will be about $64 billion," he said, of the industry as a whole. "By 2014, the number is expected to rise to 84 billion.”
Smiling broadly, he added, “I believe I’m in the right place at the right time.”
Setting up for the grand opening, Blasco's mother, Melissa, explained that, when it came to really doing all this, Taylor took the reins.
“Except for certain technicalities that minors just are not allowed to do, Taylor has done everything himself," she said. "Everything.”
He designed the logo and the look of the store. He learned about limited liability corporations. And he did his due diligence to comply with municipal, county and state regulations.
"It’s fun!” the new store owner said.
But it's also challenging, his mother added. She and Taylor's father, James, have been supportive of their son. But they insist that he is the "big thinker" behind the project.
“People with plenty of marketing experience have been impressed with Taylor’s knowledge of products and distributors," she said. "They have said that he’s found some they just could not locate.”
Attending Orlando’s famous comic book convention, Megacon, last year, Taylor realized that he felt “calm” and “at home” among others with similar interests.
“Now, I want to make a place where nerds can come, talk, sit down and play," he said.
And not even he knows where that mission will take him in the future.
“As his vision increases, the business will develop,” his mother noted.
“I will eventually create more than this,” Blasco promised, as he scanned his well-stocked shop. "This is my happy place. Everyone deserves that. I may just stay here forever.”
Coming in for a new video game, brothers Dylan and Dawson Tangulig explained that they like the shop so much because "well, we’re just a couple of nerds,” they said, laughing.“Really though, we’ve all been friends for a long time. This is a great accomplishment for Taylor, and now, we can get really good stuff.”
And, for Blasco, that's what it's all about: “companionship and fun.” He's only trying to spread his passion, preach the gospel according to Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers and so many other fellow nerds who went on to achieve greatness.
The 501st Legion of Central Florida troopers, an organized group of "Star Wars" costume enthusiasts, will be present at Nerdtropolis' grand opening, noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Call 265-1790, and search "Nerdtropolis" on Facebook to become a fan.