Denton, Texas is a forgotten North Texas city, approximately 39.6 miles away from downtown Dallas. Started in 1857, Denton is known for agricultural, manufacturing mills, and cottage industries. With a population of about 138,541 residents, it is also home to colleges such as the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University.
The thought of Denton may not come across the minds of people planning to visit Texas. Which is why I think Denton is an underrated city that everyone seems to look over. But, what you don’t know is that Denton also thrives on its active music and arts scene. With events such as the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo, Thin Line Fest, and Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. Denton has a continuously growing population, with a handful of geeky places.
Disclaimer: A few businesses we reached out to did not respond due to shutdown during COVID-19.
If you’re in need of a small getaway in DFW, Denton is the definition of your home away from home. You can relax with a cup of joe from the numerous local coffee shops around the area. While the community may not be as populated as Dallas, Denton’s growth allows small businesses to thrive. Most importantly, the geek culture may not be as prevalent in North Texas.
“Geek culture is so broad it is hard for a couple stores to cover it all. For example, to the best of my knowledge, Denton currently has very little support for manga/anime from an expert store,” Jim Shuman, owner of Madness Comics said.
Small businesses make up a huge part of the community. And it’s always a win when you get to support local businesses. These small communities create a new level of intimacy and engagement. If you plan on traveling around Texas, you should make sure to visit Denton as a go-to spot!
Recognizing geek culture
More prevalent now than ever, geek culture has a big influence on today’s society. Anime and superheroes are no stranger to some of the geek stores within Denton.
“I was a geek before geek was cool. [I’ve] been reading comics for close to 60 years. [I] have been a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy almost as long. It is always fun to share stories with others of the first viewing or reading of some key character or event,” Shuman said.
While being a small city, Denton shares a handful of hidden geeky gems. These stores and shops exist because of nerdy store owners who wish to share their love and passion for all things geek.
“Being able to reach an audience that is passionate about geek culture and anime is everything to me,” Ashley Roybal, owner of Otaku Scents, said. “It gives me a great sense of satisfaction whenever I see people post and tag my business online on how excited they are to receive their order, or how amazed they are that the scent smells like the character.”
Additionally, to run a geek business means more than just to operate one.
“I was able to share my excitement and love for games and comics,” Shuman said. “My work isn’t a ‘job,’ it is a love.”
The importance of these stores adds a splash of character to Denton. I had the pleasure of interviewing Denton’s geek associates who gave me the inside scoop of what it’s like being a part of the geek industry.
Importance of the geek industry
Comic book and vintage novelty stores have always been on my radar since I moved to Denton. When you are driving along University Drive, there are many fast food restaurants. But if you look hard enough, you can spot places such as Game X Change and Madness Comics and Games.
“I love being able to fuel people’s passion with the products [and] services I provide. To listen to their excitement or anger at the latest changes creators and or [manufacturers] are doing to their favorite game, character, [and] fictional universe,” Shuman said.
Geek culture provides a sense of mutual connection, specific interests, and hobbies. It provides the ability to create a place for people to escape reality and be immersed with other worlds.
Leaving room for nostalgia
Many of the stores are equipped with great nostalgic artifacts that you can’t find in stores nowadays. From vintage Nintendo 64 games, to a rare holographic pokemon card. While there may not be an abundance of nerdy stores, the possibilities are endless.
Although nerd culture is mainstream now, people can finally normalize and appreciate the culture for what it is. And leave behind the predated judgements about how being a nerd is uncool. We’ve come a long way since then and we’re stronger than ever!
Diversity and belonging
The nerd community faced a lot of backlash from those that didn’t understand people who enjoy the escape from reality. Most would get bullied or picked on for being different or not sharing similar interests as others. But, nowadays being a geek is normalized and cool due to the mainstream media. The community came a long way since then and opened its arms to everyone.
“Geek culture and anime to me means that a group of people, no matter what background they may come from, can come together and be SO passionate about a particular fandom, or many fandoms. As much as I’ve traveled due to my business, it never ceases to amaze me that so many different kinds of people can all agree on at least one thing: that geek and otaku culture are inclusive to everyone,” Roybal said.
Roybal also mentions that it gives her great satisfaction to have customers hype up her products on social media and when they stop by at her booth during conventions. To share the mutual love of geek culture makes the world go round! And it’s amazing how much of an impression can leave on being able to obtain an item that means the entire world to someone.
“It is a place for people to be creative, to share their excitement about their part of the geek kingdom. For geeks come in all shapes, sizes and ages,” Shuman said.
With the addition of geek stores that remain in Denton, there is no surprise why the geek culture is still being preserved. The geek paradise still has room to grow and hopefully won’t stop there. I hope that within the near future, there will be an abundant amount of geeky stores that can go around that deserve your attention and support.
What are some of your favorite geek shops or groups in your area?
Read more of Davie’s articles here.
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Featured image credit: Denton Main Street