Ariell Johnson, the founder and owner of Kensington-based Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse, recently announced that the shop will be closing its doors this fall.
In a letter addressing the impending closing, Johnson cited the “cumulative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic” as a main contributing factor. The shop’s last day of operations is expected to be Saturday, Oct. 15.
“Amalgam is the kind of place I wished for when I was younger,” Johnson said in the letter. “It was built with intention and love – in the hope of providing fellow nerds with the kind of place I never had. I hope the energy that I poured into Amalgam was felt by everyone that ever walked through our TARDIS door.”
Amalgam opened in 2015 at 2578 Frankford Ave. as one of the first Black female-owned comic book stores on the East Coast. Over the years, it has been visited by numerous famous guests such as Congressman John Lewis, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ursula Rocker. Johnson said that she strived to create a welcoming environment for “independent creators, writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, performers, and makers of all kinds – to support them as they enrich our artistic and cultural life.”
Although the shop was able to reopen in June 2021 thanks to various loans as well as a GoFundMe campaign, it has been unable to successfully rebound. Despite the closing, Johnson did leave the door open for a potential reopening should future circumstances allow for it.
“If the opportunity arises, I hope to bring it back because I believe spaces like Amalgam need to exist; spaces of joy and renewal, spaces of community and rest,” Johnson said.