Storefront Report: Silver Lake comic book store to open Highland Park outlet

Silver Lake’s Secret Headquarters has been described as a “boutique” comic  book shop, with its dark wood shelves filled with popular and hard-to-find comics and graphic novels. Now, seven years after Secret Headquarters opened up its Sunset Boulevard location, the owners of the shop are opening a store in Highland Park, joining the new  boutiques, cafes and galleries on York Boulevard.   The new shop–called Thank You–will sell not only comics and graphic novels but also a variety of magazines and new and used books, said Secret Headquarters co-owner and Highland Park resident David Pifer.

“It’s going to be a great set up,” Pifer said.

The brick-and-mortar bookstore business is far from booming. But Pifer said he thinks the Northeast L.A. comic book market is “underserved” and that are very few stores nearby that sell new books (The Pop Hop book shop that opened across the street sells earlier this year sells mostly used books, Pifer said).  Pifer is also counting on creating a unique vibe and atmosphere to attract and set Thank You  apart from rivals in much the same way Secret Headquarters stands out from comic book retailers.  “The look of the space makes people curious to see what it;s about,” Pifer said.

Pifer, 38, said he and Secret Headquarters co-owner and long time friend David Ritchie, 40,  had been looking for space on York Boulevard for some time. After hearing through a friend that a building on York near Avenue 50 was to be renovated, they decided they wanted to take over the approximately 1,000-square foot space with exposed brick walls and ceiling beams. The pair, who have known each other since high school, now both live on the same Highland Park street only about five blocks from the new comics and books store.

What is going to happen to Secret Headquarters and the adjacent Vacation Vinyl? Pifer said they will remain open. They are ” not going anywhere.”


  1. amazing! i freaking love secret headquarters (and vacation!)

  2. Very cool. Im a fan of secret headquarters.These hip places are starting to out number the party stores on York. Keep gentrifying highland park!

    • Is there any way to zone HLP to ensure that the ratio of “hip” places to the established un-hip places never exceeds 1:1? Who do I write to make that happen?

      I’m just waiting for (dreading) what’s on the horizon — after all the original stores have been priced out of the area, somebody’s going to open a hip, ironic party store that sells mustachioed pinatas. And the blog comments will be something like, “what a cool idea — this area’s always needed a good party store”

    • Blair: I really can’t tell if you’re being serious. You’re basically saying, “Go away, annoying unhip businesses that have been in this community for years. We want our $6 drip coffees, our $30 graphic novels, and our $800 imported fixed-gear bikes.”

      When Highland Park gentrifies, as you wish it to do, where should the people who used to run the unhip party stores and other businesses there go? Somewhere far and out of sight, presumably, where they won’t be buzzkills for fans of hip places like yourself. But it doesn’t sound like that’s your concern. Bring on the dodgeball tournaments! Lots of nice parking for your parents’ Volvos and Subarus.

      • My comment made quite the impact. No I don’t drive a Volvo , but I drive A european luxury car. I bought my new home here after relocating from the bay area so I’m invested in the neighborhood. I don’t mind paying $6 for my drip coffee and spending my hard earned money on a graphic novel from time to time. So what? Its my money. If these party stores and liquor stores fail, is it my fault because i dont buy from them? No it’s not! You really think all these party stores will survive with their businesses being in a prime area on the same block as the coffee shops and bars?

        Will I be sad when these stores and auto repair shops are replaced with a wine bar or sushi place or gastropub? No way Jose.

        It’s not about disrespecting the old guard. It’s about wanting amenities that I will frequent.

      • Octopus, you got some class envy working there?

        • Possibly, if that makes you feel better. Or maybe it’s just a distaste for crass, thoughtless, materialistic yuppies who drive “[E]uropean luxury car[s]” and hope for the demise of utterly gauche “auto repair shops.” Cars should be fixed somewhere out of sight of the craft beer tastings and gourmet grilled cheese restaurants!

          But you’re right. We should stop our whining. Let’s celebrate the jellyfish swarm of conventional privileged hipster culture. Let the former residents of these newly “discovered” neighborhoods make way and be removed to the hinterlands, where they belong, with their unsightly auto repair shops! “Keep gentrifying highland park!” We must save it from what it is now.

          Is there anything wrong with cheering gentrification? “No way Jose!” It’s our hard-earned money, dammit. This neighborhood will bend to our desires for “amenities.” Anyway, have a great time, guys! You deserve it. You work so hard for it. (These people living in HP now don’t work nearly as hard as you do. Your labor and preferences are more valuable than theirs.) Hope you don’t end up wearing the same glasses or sneakers as your friends.

          • I sense some territorial behavior in Octopus’ remarks. Are you really crying over a comic bookstore opening up in once was an empty storefront? Im sure Latinos, Asians and African Americans like to read comics.

            Urban renewal is happening not just in Los Angeles, but in all major metropolitan cities.

          • Mark: To clarify, like Daniel, I have no beef whatsoever with comic book stores. My issue is with callous, entitled, and smug celebration of gentrification — real human costs and effects be damned. I wholeheartedly embrace the views expressed by Mark and HP Local & Native Angeleno below.

          • I’m going to drive my shi**y Matrix (while STOPPING at stop signs AND not being smug), and spend my hard earned unemployment money at Trader Joe’s to make my own coffee at home. This will allow for me to save up and go shopping on York once a year. And perhaps? I will take my riches to the comic book store, Johnny’s, The Wombleton (where I don’t dare set foot due to lack of funds) and the Schodorf establishments. (Sorry “BA” & The York… you are way out of my range.)

            But its gonna take a year.

            Until then, I will draw my own comic books at home, make my own furniture, repair my own car, become a designer of my own socks, landscape empty lots and clean up after dipshits who throw their Starbucks cups on my street. All this DIY spirit will allow for the multi-tasking while scouring help-wanted adds… The End.

            PS: I love you “the Davids”!

  3. Secret Headquarters sucks. Its too sanatized and preppy like. I miss the old comic shops like the OG golden apple and World’s Finest Comics. Filled with not only books, but wall to wall collectible statues, cards and other comic paraphanelia. Shoot Wacko up the street is another fine example.

  4. awesome. great addition to the neighborhood.

  5. Oh man! SQ is such a wonderful store, it’s good to know they are doing well enough to open another location. Plus, the new manager they hired is fantastic. I’m so excited for this store to open.

  6. This is so awesome!!!!! I’m so thrilled about this addition to the neighborhood. Now I don’t have to leave the neighborhood to get new issues of the Walking Dead!!

  7. Hilarious to see the kvetchers in the comments. Between ‘ugh no more hipsters’ and ‘ugh not the RIGHT kind of comic book store’ it makes me believe that everyone on this planet is an unhappy bitter little jerkrag. I for one welcome any genre of bookstore in this cold-hearted age of the e-reader.

    • I don’t hate the coffee, vinyl, craft beer, ice cream or comics on York. I have a problem with folks who can’t wait to sweep out what came before with little or no appreciation for what it was in the past. If your parents happened to be running that party store and (just possibly happened to be non-white), how would you feel about all the people salivating for your parents’ shop to be exchanged for something hipper?

      Things can (and will) change but if HLP just turns into another knockoff Silver Lake or Echo Park, it’ll have lost those things that once made it a bit different — i.e. party stores, a cheap movie theatre, good Mexican food, a homey pizza shop, etc. I hope the area can thoughtfully integrate the pre-existing with the new stuff.

      Bring on the new energy of new blood but don’t gleefully disrespect those who came before you by acting as if their slice of the block is some unwanted blight. That’s what’s not cool about some pro-gentrification commenters.

      • I’m not white and I want a goddamn comic book store! The GEEKS will inherit the earth!

      • Carnalito. I love my Raza tambien, but let’s be real. With the exception of the La Estrella truck on York, Mexican food in HLP sucks. The movie theatre is rancid. Yeah, Follieros is good, but those party stores? You proud of that?

      • “I have a problem with folks who can’t wait to sweep out what came before with little or no appreciation for what it was in the past. ”

        Ummm, Highland Park was originally built by Anglos. How do you think those people felt about the cheap party & 99 cent stores moving in?
        They probably sounded just like you.

        Anyway, I look forward to the new store and wish them all the best.

  8. There’s more than enough vacant properties along York to give businesses of all varieties a chance to thrive or fail.

  9. This perceived plague of “The Hipsters” sounds like something out of a comic book. “Hipster” is just another name for mainstream (circa 2012; circa 1950 it had a whole other meaning) and what HP is experiencing is no different than many gentrifying neighborhoods throughout North America.

    there is, however, something to be said about the negative impact that gentrification can have: long-time residents who have been part of a community find their homes unaffordable and their businesses unable to compete.

    there’s no easy answer, but some new businesses are making efforts. For example, Bu Bistro uses bread from the Mexican bakery whose storefront they now occupy on York Blvd — an effort to include the past in the future.

    as an HP resident and home-owner for the past 5 years I am excited about the new developments along York Blvd even though comic book stores and gastro-pubs are not at the top of my list as far as amenities. that said, I am also concerned about the effects that this new development has on long-time residents — traditionally working class Latino families.

    Instead of protesting what is inevitable or callously disregarding the very real effects of change, let’s talk about ideas and solutions — that’s what community can offer everyone.

    • This response is much saner than my admittedly over-the-top responses above. Seconded.

    • HP local & Native Angeleno

      Regulations should be implemented to prevent house flippers from coming in, such as Better Shelter, who make mostly aesthetic repairs and then re-sell homes at a 100- 150% (or more) mark up. This drives housing prices up to ridiculously inflated numbers.

      Yes, gentrification happens for better and for worse, but no one wants to consider the latter. Gentrification can be good in that there is the possibility of integration in neighborhoods – both racially and economically, but the unrelenting march of gentrification typically ends up displacing the poorer and non-white people. Displacement defines gentrification. Neighborhoods are dynamic and always experience change, but I think people should be more reflective and considerate as to how and why and what impact these changes have.

      Obviously, L.A. is rich in the ethnic diversity of its inhabitants, but it is an extremely segregated city. It would be great to be able to change this, but it requires at bare minimum an awareness and admission that this is a segregated city and then a willingness and desire to have integration. Ultimately, is there any real desire for this among whites and the middle class?

      People have an extremely hard time talking about race and its not just in L.A. Race/ethnicity is an inextricable factor of the socio-economic issues that are a part of gentrification and where one chooses to live and not live. Despite the fact we are in the 21st century we still need to learn how to talk about this issue and I hope we do.

  10. Figueroa had department stores when I moved here, and a Chevrolet dealership, and the twice weekly Highland Park newspaper, four hardware stores.,etc.. There were No garishly painted party stores or dozens of nail salons or check cashing businesses. All that stuff is recent. They were the beginning of the downtrend of the neighborhood. Whatever replaces them will be a welcome improvement.

  11. Highland Park is just the latest in the hipsters/new kids franchise …….
    All the bars/businesses look alike – just like, Silverlake, Echo Park, Williamsburg etc….
    Just like McDonald’s and Burger Kings all look alike and taste alike…………..

  12. BS McDonald’s tastes like burger king. Fish filets at McDonald’s taste way better.

  13. Punk Point Lover 73

    As I was reading the comments on this I was formulating my best sarcastic witty awesome #1 response, but I rather need to say that everyone bitching about the neighborhood on here missed something. I guess that you missed the fact that the “David’s” both live right up the street from York and only a few blocks from the new location. If you thinks it is wrong for residents of an area to invest in their community by opening a small business then I don’t know if there is any hope for you.

  14. Look, I’m a white male, and I just bought a house in highland park. I’m 38 years old, grew up in a middle class mostly white place in the mid west. I struggled for a long long time as an artist and creative person to make a living, without much help from my family. I when I finally decided to buy a house after getting lucky in my career, I discovered the area. I love it and already feel a bit territorial and ownership of the neighborhood after only a year of living here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very aware of the advantages I’ve had as a white male, but they’re not realized nearly as much when pursuing a creative life.

    I’m torn. I don’t feel entitled, and I’m not exactly excited about a lot of the gentrification aspects either, but I do understand the positives of it. What I love about Highland Park, is that it has soul and many family owned business’, and the lack of over homogenization (aside from that ridiculous amount of fast food joints). I certainly didn’t move there because I thought more white people would follow. I like it just the way it is, but I do understand that economics drives everything and more wealthy people will move in eventually.

    The hipster culture isn’t just white btw. It’s taken over across the board. Style, fashion, and surface has made it’s way into everything the last ten years. And make no mistake, this was an underground culture that has been co-opted, watered down, and marketed to a whole new generation.

    Unfortunately, in America, our votes and protests matter very little. The only thing that matters is what we can control, which is how we conduct ourselves, and what we spend our money on. Every time we spend a dime, we’re voting for that business, and the things and morals it holds itself to.

    Here’s to people of all races continuing their support of good individuals who provide good services, morals, and soul along with their profiting, and that the people who continue to move into HP support and respect the culture that’s been there for ages.

    And before we blindly label all white people as bad, and entitled, or whatever, think about how the things that bother you about gentrification, are a larger symptom of society and economics. We all want the same things out of life, and we’re trying to get them in the midst of a pretty fucked up time. I for one feel lucky to be in HP, and even though hipster culture annoys the shit out of me at times, at least it’s not gigantic soulless corporate profiteering. All of these new “hipster business’s” are owned by individual’s and not all of them are white. To not realize that, is to be lazy, and bigoted in your own right.

    (I probably look like a hipster too…..sigh…..it’s hard to find anything in our culture that is individualistic and un tainted by someone already)

  15. I have lived in Highland Park since 1968, attended all local public schools (Buchanan, Burbank, Franklin), remember People’s and Iver’s Department stores on Fig, actually used to bowl at Mr. T’s, went to movies at the Highland Theater when it was ONE huge theater, lined up on hot summer days dime in-hand to swim at the local public pool, delivered on Thurs mornings and Saturday afternoons the Highland Park News Herald and Journal, and worked at my dad’s jewelry store along York Blvd (first above Sam’s Hardware and then a couple of business store fronts from Elsa’s bakery, which had just opened). Most business owners back then were locals that actually walked to their businesses, like my dad did. I have seen the changes all around HP and it is time for a new generation to take over. It reinvents and rejuvenates the neighborhood. Welcome to HP, Secret Headquarters!

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