We had the good fortune of connecting with TJ Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi TJ, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I got laid off one too many times from oil and gas jobs, and I had been working in the comic industry on the side doing trade shows (long before they were called conventions), so I decided to pursue it full time. There was a documentary on TV about millionaires who were laid off or fired and they said it was the best thing that happened to them because they were able to go work for themselves, and I figured I’d go work for myself too.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I own and run the oldest comic shop in the state of Texas. Third Planet has been open since 1975, and even before that I was working small shows and conventions as a hobby, so I’ve been at this for a while. When I first started off, I was in a little 300 square foot place, and I sold comics, vinyl, and t-shirts. I started expanding into toys and statues and soon I needed a bigger place, so I bought a much larger building not too far from my original location. My business has survived both economic issues such as recessions as well as natural disasters such as all of the hurricanes Houston has dealt with, ice storms, and we even had a small fire in the shop a couple years back! The only thing we lost in that was one of our soda machines (which was the cause of the fire) and a couple posters on the front window.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My manager Stephanie loves to suggest the Hobbit Cafe not too far from our shop as a good place to grab some food. They’ve also been in Houston a long time like I have. Their cafe predates the the movies by a few decades, and we like to suggest them to our customers who may be in from out of town and looking for a uniquely Houston place to eat. We’re also not too far away from the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Fine Arts Museum, and they always have some new exhibit that’s worth seeing. My manager also tells me that we have a lot of breweries here in town, and while I don’t drink, I know she likes to suggest them to customers who like that sort of thing.