SAN ANTONIO – One South Side man is passionate about keeping his love for comic books alive in the community.
Pete Contero, owner of Collectors Authority, has been in business for over 24 years.
“My brother-in-law and I started it,” Contero said. “After three garage-size sheds filled, we decided, ‘Ok enough is enough. We have to open up.’ This was everything we had.”
In the beginning, their store looked a lot different from what it looks like today.
“Action figures, posters, Hot Wheels, Barbies, Beanie Babies, sports cards, non-sports cards,” Contero said. “You name it, we had everything under the roof.”
As time advanced, Contero said they have had to adjust to stay popular.
Through it all, he said the passion for comic booking started with his love of reading.
“I loved to read when I was younger,” Contero said. “My teachers didn’t care what you read, just as long as you read, and you learned that way. That is how I learned a lot of my reading. As time went on, we got into novels but they just wasn’t as fun,” he laughed.
Today, Contero runs the store with his son. He said the entire experience is a dream come true.
“A lot of the people keep coming in because they love the hunt of those particular issues and things like that that we have,” Contero said. “After they get their stuff, some like to hang around and talk about movies they watch, games they play, the story lines they are reading and all of a sudden another is listening in and chiming in. It is like a little group.”
He said it makes him happy seeing the community having the same experience he has when he reads comic books.
“It takes you to another world,” Contero said. “You can live that world.”
When the pandemic struck, Contero said they have had to downsize, but he works even harder to keep it alive.
“Here, I can say I love my job,” Contero said. “Every now and then, my wife goes, ‘Are you tired of this?’ I go, ‘Nope!’ I am tired, but not tired of my job, let’s put it that way. But I love what I do.”
He said the biggest enjoyment is serving the South Side community.
“Finding that one book that somebody needs or getting something somebody wants because they can’t get it anywhere else is amazing,” Contero said. “You give back to the community by getting kids into reading and learning things they did not know.”
Contero said he hopes his journey finding the dream career of his life inspires others.
“If you have a dream, don’t give it up,” Contero said. “I mean, everybody has different dreams and trust me, I have had several different dreams just like everybody else. I said this is my dream.”