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By DEMORRIS A. LEE, Times Staff Writer
Published January 5, 2008
Let me be the first to admit, I'm not one for critters. ¶ Snakes of any kind give me the creeps. Lizards? There's absolutely nothing cute about them, even if they can turn from green to shades of purple. And rats or mice - who knows the difference between the two - are downright disgusting.
But then John Lewis, 53, one of the owners of Comics and Critters Too, brought out Goldie.
"Awwww," I said, involuntarily.
Goldie stole my heart.
Goldie is a mouse so tiny she could fit in the palm of your hand. Her fur is golden and shimmered like silk when the light hit it.
"I knew I had a mouse that you would like," Lewis said with a smile.
Even before I met Goldie, I knew this store was unique. Lewis and co-owner Erica Heflin think it's the only store of its kind, possibly in the country.
Not only are there lizards, mice and a hundred species of exotic fish at the store at 13441 S Belcher Road in Largo, but there are also loads of comic books. Yep, those Batman comics that cost 10 cents back in the day can now be purchased in mint condition $30 or more.
Still not satisfied? Visit the long tables surrounded by a mural painted by store employee Enoc Figueroa. That's where gamers can build, prime and paint their figurines for the science fantasy game Warhammer. Or they can play Dungeons and Dragons with Lewis, who serves as the Dungeon Master. There is a group of 15 regulars who participate.
Lewis said many gamers are also into exotic pets and comic books, so the concepts at the store, which opened in August, blend perfectly.
"It's a matter of being able to share your hobbies with others," said Lewis, who has lived in Pinellas County since 1965. "I like having a store that everyone likes to go to."
John Kissick, 21, of Largo, spends much of his free time at Comics and Critters Too, painting his Warhammer figures or just hanging out at the store.
"I like the people," Kissick said, who wandered through the store talking to others on a recent afternoon. "Basically, it's a family store."
Amy Stoefen popped in to purchase 50 crickets for her bearded dragon, which she's had for about five months.
"He's so tame," she said. "They are so nice. I can't believe it."
Something dubbed a bearded dragon is tame? I rolled my eyes.
I still had plenty of questions for Lewis. Like, why do you like hanging out with snakes? And who buys lizards? Or who really wants a rodent for a pet?
But after spending a few hours at Comics and Critters Too and being smitten by Goldie, I understand why people go to the store. It's the friendly, laid-back atmosphere the very knowledgeable staff provides.
Got a question about a lizard? I guarantee you, someone at Comics and Critters Too has the answer. And you can always buy a comic book on your way out.
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at email@example.com or 727 445-4174.
To learn more
Comics and Critters Too
Where: 13441 S Belcher Road, Largo
Hours: 11 a.m. -7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday
Phone: To reach the store, call (727) 535-8580.
[Last modified January 4, 2008, 22:15:47]