McDONOUGH — The Hobbit Hole is about more than just comic books and fantasy games. The store is about family.
Terry Bishop opened the shop in northern Henry County two years ago with his seven children as business partners.
“I wanted a family business,” Bishop said. “And our family is centered around this place.”
Bishop retired from the U.S. Army a few years ago. After moving 13 times throughout his 42-year career, his family was ready to settle down.
“We are a really strong family and we wanted to do something together,” Bishop said.
And indeed they do. The whole family is often in the store, rotating duties.
Chelsey Bishop, 22, just turned the store manager role over to her younger sister, Madison, 19.
“Sometimes it gets a bit difficult because we’re family,” Chelsey said laughing. “But it’s worth it because you’re working for something more than just yourself.”
When the idea of opening a shop dedicated to comics was brought up, Bishop said the family responded with enthusiasm. They all piled in the car and traveled to several shops across four states to get some ideas before opening The Hobbit Hole.
Bishop said he knew he wanted to create a store that was bright, clean, organized and comfortable. Toward that end, he’s divided the store so customers can find exactly what they’re looking for. The front room holds all the shop’s comic books. The center room contains an array of collectible toys and games. The back room, called the dungeon, is set up for card and game playing. Off the dungeon is a maze of covered outdoor tables, also for game playing.
Bishop has been familiar with comic book shops since he was a kid. At a young age he developed a love of comics, specifically Spiderman. Now 63, he still follows Peter Parker’s adventures. He said he was drawn to the character because of his “frailties.”
“He had a hard life and it wasn’t easy, he worked for what he had,” Bishop said.
Like Peter Parker, Bishop worked to earn his comic books as a youngster. He collected glass bottles and returned them for deposit.
“Six bottles got us a comic book back then,” he said.
For Bishop, comic books are what kept his attention when it came to reading. He’s now happy to pass along that love of reading to younger generations.
“Nobody reads now and comic books are a way to get them to read. It increases their vocabulary and interaction with life,” Bishop said.
The shop also encourages and fosters “real-life” friendships.
“So many people these days play games online and never meet each other,” Bishop said. “Here, they get to come together, play games with each other and become friends.”
In fact, The Hobbit Hole is where Chelsey met her best friend. She’d never played Magic The Gathering card game before, but quickly caught on and was hooked.
“You make a lot of connections playing and you get to meet and interact with people from all over the world,” she said.
The shop hosts nightly card games and regular tournaments, with several different games. On the weekends, The Hobbit Hole has classes to teach younger kids how to play Pokemon and My Little Pony.
All skill levels and ages are welcome to drop in and play.
“It’s great because we bring together a lot of different people and they get to interact on a human level,” Bishop said.
Chelsey said the friendships made are the best part of working at the store.
“We get to have kids coming in, having a good time — they come in smiling,” she said. “It’s our home and I want people to come in and call it home, too.”
Coming up at The Hobbit Hole is a Gamers Camp held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 20 to 24. Campers will learn Magic, Yugioh, Pokemon and Dungeons and Dragons. They’ll also take part in a comic book seminar and play board games. The cost is $150 for the week with lunch included. Discounts are offered for multiple children.
The Hobbit Hole is located at 3805 Jodeco Road in McDonough. For more information or to sign up for camp, call 404-983-2282 or visit www.thehobbitholeatjodeco.com.