Owner: Leef Smith
Business: Mission: Comics & Art
Address: 2250 Mission St.
Type: Retail
Product: Comics and art

What gave you the idea to start your business?
I lived in the neighborhood for many years. There were a couple of comic book stores on 23rd Street and one of them was actually the oldest in North America. When they closed down, I always thought that someone else should open up a comic book store. When I was laid off, I decided to take the initiative.

What has been your experience opening up a business in the Mission?
Well, it has been really hard, but rewarding at the same time. Like anyone, starting your own business has its ups and downs. I think the main issue I’ve faced is cash flow; however, the reward is my interaction with the clients, as I appreciate being a part of the community.

How does having your own business resonate with your life?
I think it has changed my relationship with the community. Now, people recognize me on the street and call me the comic book guy. I also feel like this comic book store provides the Mission a space for art. As I see it, comic books are an art form and it has been sad seeing how many art spaces are gone.

Why should people Invest in small businesses?
Studies show that revenue that is invested in the local community stays in the local community. Even though the Mission is one neighborhood, it seems that it can be somewhat segregated. I would want this place to be a space for everyone.

Where do you see your business in five years?
Still here! That’s really the biggest thing. People have been saying for 40 years that comics were going to disappear, but I really believe it’s important. Comics allow people to practice many important skills. So, I totally still support reading on paper.

What do you love being in the Mission?
It has really expanded my connections with the community. I walk around the community and run into customers. It has really enriched my life with more opportunities to meet people in the community, as well as provide a space for friends to work on a project.