Jim Hambrick runs the Superman Museum on the town square in Metropolis, Ill. A longtime Superman enthusiast and collector, Jim has one of the greatest Superman collections in the world. Among the items are virtually every Superman toy ever produced, props from the Christopher Reeve movies and one of the only George Reeves Superman costumes still in existence.
In early 2004 Steve Younis (Superman Homepage owner) and Jim Hambrick joined forces to help create the Superman Superstore... A new online store selling the largest range of Superman merchandise on the internet. The following interview with Jim was conducted to help explain the why, where, how and when of this new endeavor.
This interview is Copyright © 2004 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.
A: My breakaway from the other website was a mutual one. I just had to put together a bigger team with much bigger expectations for success in this business. The old "lemonade stand mentality" was just not enough to keep up with the demands of the fans and collectors. We needed something bigger and better with more considerations towards what people want and expect in product and in service. Yes, we've grown by leaps and bounds (pun intended) but I have a much bigger vision of what we need to be.
Q: How long have you been involved with Superman?
A: Superman has been my life since 1959. In fact, I moved to Metropolis Illinois, "Home of Superman" over eleven years ago from Hollywood California. I made this move for many good reasons. One was to open up and realize my dream of a Superman Museum in Metropolis as after traveling the United States with a mobile museum for over 15 years, I felt that I needed a permanent location to display and exhibit what I had spent a lifetime accumulating. I wanted a place where I could open the doors every single day without having to have a special reason for being there like an anniversary of some kind or a special occasion or event such as a movie promotion. I wanted to be in a place where I could just be there everyday and open because that is what people would expect. Well, where else in the world other than Metropolis Illinois, "Home of Superman". At the time if Metropolis would have been in the Mohave desert, that's where I'd have moved to. Lucky for my family and me... and others who came here with me to build and be a part of this "ALL AMERICAN DREAM" that the people here were great and were indeed, very helpful. The location is within a 600 mile radius of two thirds of the population of the U.S. and this little town of Metropolis already had world wide recognition for it's connection to our favorite flying hero. And with the placement of the giant 20 ft. bronze-in-color Superman Statue right in front of the county courthouse on Superman square, and the I-24 interstate... how very fortunate I was to be able to get the building right smack dab under the watchful eyes of the Superman Statue which coincidentally came to Metropolis just a few short weeks after I arrived here with over five semi-tuck trailers full of my Superman collection which took me over a year just to pack.
Q: Did the move to Metropolis Illinois prove successful?
A: To have that Superman address on Superman Square in the "home of Superman" was truly a unique combination as within a very short time, I was selling more Superman Merchandise than anyone else in the world. I mean to say that I had been involved with selling Superman merchandise through the mail from California but it was no where near the success that it quickly became HERE! Between the "the Death of Superman", the new "Lois and Clark" television series and the already annual Superman Celebration here in Metropolis.
Q: When did you decide to start selling on the Internet?
A: I had plenty of Super-waves to ride. And the internet was just around the corner! I had heard at that time that Teri Hatcher from "Lois and Clark" was the most downloaded person on the internet. I felt that even though I didn't know ANYTHING about computers that somehow and someway I would have to catch up with the times. This has always been a passion for me so it really wasn't a job at all... it was just simply an extension of what I ALREADY DO. It wasn't long that I realized what I had been missing with the internet. All of my old Superman friends and such that I had traded with for over 25 years were all here and plenty of new friends as well. It was really amazing to me that I was now in touch with all of people that I had grown up with on the convention circuit. Of course, reality sets in real quick in Metropolis during the winter as there is absolutely NO ONE coming in during the winter months. I mean to say that in California there was no such thing as "DOWN TIME" as tourist season was 24/7. Ands here, I had to learn from the squirrels what to do during the winter months. And I must say that the first 5 years were BRUTAL! So, the internet really fit in nicely to my plans for growth and being able to work at it all the time even during those cold winters and tourist-less months. It was really nice to be able to promote something that was permanent. This was much different than the 15 years of the "Superman Mobile Museum" of which I was so used to here for a week there for a week... etc, etc. So, I got together with several other long time fans, collectors and business minded people to build a Superman community like no other. We each decided to take on a category. Newsletter, photo gallery of each medium of Superman, promoting the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, promote the museum and of course I would want to be involved with every aspect as I was one of the few collectors who was into it ALL! I mean to say that those of you who know me understand my madness all too well. I LOVE IT ALL!!! But I had to continue to support my habit and realize this dream for a permanent location which I had spent a lifetime amassing. I already had a very successful Superman gift store attached to the museum. So, I felt that the next obvious step would be to create an internet extension of my already existing Superman gift store. It was a "no brainer". I was already the largest outlet for Superman related merchandise on the planet... and so it made good sense to create an internet outlet derived from my store.
Q: Why join forces with Steve Younis (from the Superman Homepage)?
A: I'm very proud to have joined forced with Steve as I consider him to be the best there is on the internet with Superman. Nobody does it better with all of the latest news and latest events, products and projects. Everyone in the community respects Steve as do I for his marvelous contributions to the world of Superman. Our team for this endeavor really does have it all! I've been involved with this character for almost 45 years and ther is no sign in me for slowing down or getting tired of it. There is STILL a lot of work to do and let's not forget the adventures and the fun STILL to be had by all of us. We here at www.SupermanSuperstore.com are all realling looking forward to this Super-endeavor!
Q: Why should Superman fans shop at the Superman Superstore?
A: We are NOT just another website in cyberspace working out of our garage or dining room. We have a REAL location, a fully stocked warehouse with hundreds of thousands in inventory and several employees handling all orders and shipping to make sure that our customers get their orders quick without delay. We are NOT going day to day and week to week using the customer's money to buy inventory which is kind of like robbing a whole lot of Peters to pay a whole lot of Pauls. We are in this with a whole lot of experience and a whole lot of hard work. And that credibility and experience matters especially in these times where every fly-by-night walk of life imaginable is opening a store on the internet. People want to feel secure about buying online especially these days. They want to know that there is an actual place. They want to know that the good people that they are buying from have a real concern for them as we are definitely in this for the long haul! This is much more than a Superman gift and collector's store... this is several lifetimes in the making. And I'm very proud to say, "folks, we are NOW open for business like never before!"
For information on the Super Museum and gift shop:
517 Market Street,
Metropolis, IL 62960
Phone: (618) 524-5518