Card and comic book lovers have their own slice of heaven in downtown Conway at The Bat Cave.
The store boasts a diverse selection of comics, board games, card games and action figures and hosts weekly card game tournaments. The Bat Cave is nestled in a quiet shopping strip on Front st., across from The Patio Cafe, and is a place for both collectors and players.
“The owner, [Calvin Keller], is a big [comic book]collector…a borderline hoarder,” employee Shelby Ashmore said. “He loves comic books. He loves action figures and sports cards and he wanted to make a place for him and his friends to come and hang out. It wasn’t an endeavor to go out and make money. It was an endeavor to make a place for people to come and hang out.”
This welcoming philosophy is still noticeable today. Several times a week, players gather in the playroom to compete in the tournaments The Bat Cave hosts. Pokémon is every Wednesday at 5 p.m., Dungeons & Dragons every Thursday at 7 p.m. and Yu-Gi-Oh! every Saturday at 4 p.m., each for a $5 entrance fee. The Bat Cave’s newest event is Super Smash Brothers every Saturday at 7 p.m..
On top of these events, The Bat Cave is also a PokéStop in the popular mobile game Pokémon Go, attracting even more customers.
The playroom is equipped with a microwave, vending machines and two TVs and a fast internet connection for customers. The room promotes an environment for players to bond over common interests.
The Bat Cave’s tournaments were what first attracted regular customer Matt Harmon to the store.
“I first started coming to the Bat Cave about a year ago,” Harmon said. “My friends and I wanted to get back into a card game, and we had played Yu-Gi-Oh! as kids, so we checked this place out for fun. It was an easy hang out spot.”
Tournaments are so popular that The Bat Cave needs tournament assistants.
“I help the store with Yu-G-Oh!-based events,” tournament assistant William Wiley said. “My friends and I from Little Rock were drafted to come here. I make a commute from Little Rock, every Saturday.”
Despite the tournament popularity, the store is still a goldmine for comic book collectors.
“The collectors are the ones that are willing to spend $50, $75, $100, just on a comic book,” Ashmore said. “Our Golden Age comic books are the moneymakers. Those are the ones that are most sought after by collectors. Currently, we’ve got a couple of books that range between $100 to $200.”
The Bat Cave works to be a friendly environment for all people, even for those on a budget or new to the card game and comic book world.
“We’re super friendly. Our goal is to appease our customers,” Ashmore said. “[The Bat Cave] is a place for fun. It’s a place to come and chill, a place to come and hang out. It’s not a place that you have to come and necessarily spend money.”
image by Sophia Ordaz