I have been visiting The Dreaming for about as long as I have lived in the U District and I go there at least once a month to check on my comic box (which, by the way, doesn't have any minimums which is great for me since I am not the biggest Marvel/DC fan).
But recently I was approached by the U District Small Business Association (UDSB), and they asked me to talk to the owner, which led me to reach out to them beyond the role of comic book fan and shop owner. I was now interviewer and they the interviewee.
We talked for hours, with brief breaks for them to greet customers and to answer any questions which a passerby might have about any of the comic book worlds. I had to admit, listening in on those conversations, he impressed me. His knowledge with what was going on in the comic book world was astounding. But I should have expected that since he has been in love with comics and games all of his life.
Aaron, the owner of The Dreaming, has been talking shop with people in the U District's community since 1989. They started in a little shop called The Comic Strip where they first cut their teeth on the back end of the comic book industry, The Comic Strip however would later get into legal troubles over a picture of a certain classic comic book penguin whose owners felt it was inappropriate to be used in their front window advertising the store.t
As they moved their way around the industry, moving from independent comic book stores to larger gaming industries, they eventually came back to the University District where they acquired The Dreaming, in homage to the famous Neil Gaimen character in Sandman, Morpheus. You will not find any store like this elsewhere in the U District. Not only will you see the latest in superhero comics, you will also find Aaron proudly presenting many local artists and content creator's work on his shelves, with weekly friendly discussions on the content within the store.
But that's not all, the Dreaming also offers an impressive selection of game manuals, board games, and a selection of favorite games which you can play in the store with Aaron or any of the other guests who might stop on by. It also acts as a community space as many people come in on Thursday nights to play classic roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and the odd Shadowrun one-off.
But, like other stores in the area, it has come upon pressing times. Discussing what the future might hold, it became apparent that the future was looking a bit uncertain for Aaron and The Dreaming. When we began exploring why that might be, I started to realize that it was a bit more complicated than just one thing. Aaron felt that the true cause of the current uncertainty for The Dreaming was a combination of the recent upheaval of residents in Seattle, the distribution industry for printed media, and the shaky future of the comic book industry in general. At this point, Aaron began to chuckle as he was reminding himself of the comic book store owners of his childhood and how they would say the same thing.
It was clear by this point that Aaron loves The Dreaming. The time that he has dedicated to connecting with everyone who comes through those doors, and the enjoyment he gets when he can share his passion about comics and games is clear the moment he starts speaking, and to hear that he was uncertain of the future for his store hurt.
With the interview finished, we end on a funny note. On the one hand, Aaron and The Dreaming are true citizens of the U District, and have contributed to the vitality of the district in so many ways, but there is also an undertone of uncertainty giving the end a sense of bitter-sweet.
The Dreaming will be featured in the UDSB's E-newsletter, and some of the board members will be working with Aaron to help preserve this community anchor, but that is only the start because to truly help a small business community, it needs you. So if you find yourself in the U District, and you want to talk about the latest and greatest in the comic book world, visit The Dreaming and support a local business and a community leader who has been helping the U District for decades get its nerd on since 1989.
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