By: Anthony Garcia
An evil clown with flaming red hair to your right.
A life-like Frankenstein to your right.
And stashed somewhere in the vicinity of the store is a custom-made Harley.
These items may seem random and accidental but at Horrorbles, this is everyday life for the store and for its owner, John “Monster Man” Aranza.
The sci-fi/horror shop at 6729 W. Roosevelt Rd. has been a hotspot for locals since 2006 where Aranza first came up with the idea for the shop in a conference in Pennsylvania.
The conference showcased an array of vintage and rare collectable items that made Aranza think about opening a shop with the same kinds of products.
“I started sourcing DVDs online & about a year later, a friend, Robin Rolder (owner of the Friendly Tap) told me about the space she had empty for 13 years and how it needed work, but she wanted to rent it,” Aranza said.
“So the wheels kicked into motion, I renovated the space, did my leg-work for licenses and came up with a name (Horror + Collectibles = Horrorbles). It just happened that the space was blocks from my house and in Berwyn so it worked out perfectly.”
The store is very popular during the Halloween season where it attracts a higher volume of customers and curious on-lookers who want to see just how much that “Chucky” doll costs in the window or snag an autograph of their favorite celebrity.
Mike Ange of Berwyn said the store has everything he could have imagined.
“I love horror and sci-fi and all I can really say is that, Horrorbles is like a candy store for horror and sci-fi fans like me,” Ange said.
According to Aranza, customers start to come in because of Halloween, but then realize that the store is not a costume shop, but is actually retail and gallery space for many different things. From there, the store has a steady clientele throughout the holidays and even into January and February based off of very niche tastes.
Because of the items that Aranza sells is geared towards certain fans, he was highly aware that the store might not do so well in the beginning stages of Horrorbles but he stayed committed to his goals and outlook for the store.
“The resolution to open any small business is to know it and be prepared to commit to it,” Aranza explained.
“We have stayed open because of recognizing the value of the small business model. We recognize customers, offer gift certificate incentives and layaways. These are essential in any business to develop loyalty and it is also being aware that small steps are more valuable and stable, than taking giant leaps.”
In an effort to maintain constant business and interest in Horrorbles, Aranza arranges special events at the store such as book signings, art galleries and even movie screenings in the store’s downstairs 16 seat theater.
Brooke Hern of Naperville, IL, said that she couldn’t get enough of Horrorbles and that, “A friend invited me to the theater of Horrorbles, where we got to bring our own drinks, eat pizza and even got to watch Return of the Living Dead. We had an absolute blast and everyone in Berwyn should check it out.”
Rather than being content to be the stereotypical dusty, run-down comic shop, Aranza says that Horrorbles strives to be a hip, culturally-aware spot for tourists and locals alike to enjoy together.
Since the store opened in 2006, Aranza says that Horrorbles is now considered a staple of the Berwyn community and not just because of the eccentricity of the business.
“We were the first retail store on Roosevelt to truly impact a niche market opportunity on what was once considered an industrial corridor and we have always supported commerce groups on both sides of the street and have always been very vocal in the importance of supporting small businesses,” Aranza said.
Because of the success of the small business, Aranza has already thought about and drawn out a model for a second Horrorbles to open elsewhere, which could have been done sooner had it not been for the economic trouble in the United States.
“Horrorbles is going to celebrate its eighth anniversary in February and with age comes growth. So when things are a bit more stable we absolutely plan on other stores and similar concepts,” Arnza announced.
With its impact squarely left on the town of Berwyn, residents somewhere in Illinois should look forward to a Horrorbles II to come creeping up in their local neighborhood in the near future.