If you want a gift that’s out of this world, then the Science Fiction Fantasy Emporium might be a good place to look. The online store was launched by Herne Bay dad-of-two Andy Prince and his wife Ann earlier this month, at the Sci-fi By The Sea event in the town.
Already it is proving popular as the couple, of The Broadway, discover that there are enough sci-fi fans out there to fill a galaxy. Andy told Liz Crudgington why his children have a vital role to play in the business, why science fiction is so popular and why this isn’t the first time he has appeared in the pages of this newspaper…
Tell me about the Science Fiction Fantasy Emporium — what is it, why did you set it up, how is it going?
It’s an online store selling T-shirts, toys, collectibles, models and other items. We decided to set it up as a business after my wife was made redundant from her job in the City. It was a passion and a dream that we decided to act on after we attended the 2013 Sci-Fi event in Herne Bay. The wheels were set in motion from then on. There is a slow trickle of customers at the moment but there is a lot of interest in the town and we hope that our low costs and free local delivery will encourage people to buy from us.
Have you always been interested in science fiction?
As a child I loved Dr Who, The Tomorrow People, Thunderbirds and things like that and as I got older I started reading H G Wells, Philip K Dick, William Gibson and Iain M Banks. I think human imagination is at its height when creating a whole new world or universe from scratch.
Do you have a favourite programme or film?
At the moment I like The Big Bang Theory, Agents Of SHIELD, Game Of Thrones, Vikings, X Men, Star Wars, Star Trek films, anything sci-fi or fantasy. It is escapism, really.
You launched at Sci-fi By The Seaquel — how did that go?
The event went really well and we had good sales considering how many people were trading. We also met some great people!
What products are most popular so far?
Game Of Thrones statues, Big Bang Theory bobble heads and T-shirts, Marvel and DC comics, T-shirts and model figures and Robocop (2014) figures.
The Emporium is a family business — who else is involved?
My wife Ann is the secretary and I am the director. Our sons, aged 13 and 10, are our advisors on what’s cool and new.
Do all the family share your love of sci-fi?
My wife didn’t have much choice about being a fan as she was always outvoted when it came to TV and cinema choices, so she gave in and joined us and now she enjoys it too.
Was it a difficult decision to set up the business?
It is always a risk to start a new business but we decided that if we stuck to a fixed amount of capital it was worth the risk. We spent the year before we launched researching products and wholesalers and following the latest trends so we were prepared.
What is the most challenging thing about the business?
Finding product lines and suppliers that make the business viable.
Any other hobbies and interests?
I’m a musician in my spare time. I created a Herne Bay Sunset (YouTube) video with original music quite a few years ago that was featured in the paper as “popular & most viewed”. I have posted many others too!
What do you like about Herne Bay?
The people have always been really friendly and it is a very relaxed place to live with fantastic coastal walks. The Broadway is a great street to live on, friendly neighbours and close to the seafront.
If you could, what would you change about Herne Bay?
The Bun Penny has been an eyesore for some time but I believe it is to be renovated soon. Other seafront properties that need modernising let the town down. More music venues would be good too.
What was your first car?
A Bedford HO van that used to be used by BT.
What was your first record?
All Along The Watchtower — Jimi Hendrix
Have you ever seen a ghost? If so, when, where and what happened?
No, I haven’t. I think people’s imaginations run away with them sometimes. Tricks of the light, creepy houses, creaking floorboards, it can kind of set your imagination running.
If you could have a dream dinner party, which three people would you invite and why?
Stan Lee (creator of so many super heroes), Carl Sagan (favourite science guru and visionary) and Jimi Hendrix (favourite guitar player). I met his dad once when I was 18.
For more information on the business or to see the products visit: www.sciencefictionfantasyemporium.com
Herne Bay Times, July 2nd 2014