WORCESTER, Mass. – New England’s pop culture Emporium is celebrating its 40th anniversary next month.
That’s Entertainment, also known as “That’s E” will hold two separate events this April in recognition of 40 years in business in Worcester.
The store, which specializes in buying and selling comic books, video games, records, and more, has been in operation since April 15, 1980, with a second location in Fitchburg opening in 1989.
Though they scheduled a Celebration in 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic delayed those plans until this week.
Sorana Gatej, marketing and event Coordinator for That’s Entertainment said that the store’s now-42nd anniversary fits nicely as a connection to Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
“We’ll probably call a lot of our events for this year as part of our 40th anniversary, or [now] our 42nd anniversary, ”Gatej said. “42, as we were saying in our press Releases, is like the meaning of life, you know? So maybe it works out better this way. ”
Gatej said a key part in what has kept the business in operation for nearly a half-century is its strong relationships with its customers, many of whom have been loyal to the store for years.
“We’ve made so many long-lasting friendships. There are people who still shop here since [the store] was on Chandler Street, ”Gatej said. “They are our best Advertisers for us, they spread our word through word of mouth, they are our cheerleaders, and we’re so Thankful. We couldn’t have made it this far without them. ”
The store also benefits from its location on Park Avenue, in Proximity to several area Colleges. Due to the constant influx of new students every year, Gatej said new visitors to the store are very common.
“In Worcester, we have so many colleges, we see a lot of rotation and students,” Gatej said. “They get attached though, and sometimes they’ll come visit even if they move far away after college… although some people stick around, and we see them, and they become repeat customers.”
Gatej said this Loyalty is equally true of the Fitchburg location, where both locals and Fitchburg State University students visit the shop and take part in the “Magic the Gathering” events.
Part of their success also lies in That’s E’s Dedication to the following Trends and staying relevant to current pop culture. Besides selling new and used items, the store works to cater specifically to Collectors and enthusiasts as they grow larger in Popularity.
“The collector’s market has only gotten more competitive, and people are seeking out collector’s items more than ever,” Gatej said. “Because we’re so diverse in what we sell, people love that. So they come in here maybe expecting to buy a record, but they have now walked through the whole store and end up with a comic book they would have never tried otherwise. ”
In Celebration of their anniversary, the Worcester location will hold a comic book signing on Sunday, April 10 with UK comic book artists Simon Bisley and Glenn Fabry, best known for their work on ABC Warriors and Preacher, amongst others.
The store will also hold a special meet and greet event with That’s Entertainment founder Paul Howley on Saturday, April 16 in the store’s event room. Howley currently lives in North Carolina and has not visited the store since around the start of the Pandemic.
“Longtime customers are excited and told us they’re excited to see it (Howley),” Gatej said. “He’s very excited for it, and we’re all too.”
For more information on That’s Entertainment, including other store events, visit their website here.