Gryphon Games & Comics serves community with co-op initiative

Ty Davis

For over 10 years, Gryphon Games & Comics has been the prominent comic book and board game store in Fort Collins. Established in 2005, Gryphon has been a staple of the community as a destination for comics, board games, toys, cards and a menagerie of geek merchandise. Gryphon has also taken a dual role as a type of community center, hosting “Magic: The Gathering” tournaments, “Dungeons & Dragons” games and a reading group.

Now, the company is working to transition into a cooperative business in hopes to engage the community and secure the store’s place as a family favorite for generations to come. 

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As a co-op, Gryphon will allow a collective of people to take ownership in the company. The implementation of a co-op system will allow members to guide decision making as well as draw influence from a more diverse group of people.

Comics and stickers on stands and shelves
Stickers on display at Gryphon Games and Comics on Sept. 11. (Skyler Pradhan | Collegian)

“(Co-ops) differ from other more traditional businesses in that the cooperative’s members are the owners of the business, and they generally also use the products and services,” said Dawn DeTienne, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Colorado State University’s College of Business. “It is a democratic system wherein decisions are made on a one member, one vote basis, although most have an elected board of directors who make day to day decisions.”

Memberships in Gryphon’s co-op would allow for members to be involved in the directional decisions of the store itself.

“A lot of the general decisions for the store will be made by the board of directors; larger decisions will also be voted on by all of the membership or certain parts of the membership,” said Sherman Sanders, co-owner of Gryphon Games & Comics.

The co-op has two membership options: the Lion Tier membership, which gives members voting abilities and 5% cash-back on their store purchases, and the Eagle Tier membership, which enables members to have greater decision making abilities, receive shares of the profit and allows the members to be involved in the store’s operations and initiatives.

We have people who are thinking about their kids, who are small at this point. They want to see this store here in 10-15 years for those kids.” – Sherman Sanders, co-owner of Gryphon Games & Comics

“(The memberships will) hopefully bring their skills to the store, Sherman said.

Membership fees go to clearing various legal and financial barriers required for Gryphon to become a co-op. The store also launched a GoFundMe campaign for people to donate toward Gryphon’s goal.

“There are certain financial levels that need to be reached by the membership,” said Liana Sanders, co-owner of Gryphon’s. “At first, the GoFundMe was established to help pay for some of the initial legal fees before we had really formed the co-op.”

According to both Liana and Sherman Sanders, the idea for the co-op has two main purposes: to give the community a voice in the direction of the store and also to ensure the store’s longevity.

Books
Gryphon Games and Comics interior. (Skyler Pradhan | Collegian)

“The end goal for becoming a co-op is for it to be a store that is run by the community, for the community,” Liana Sanders said. “So decisions are going to be made by the membership about what they want to see from their community store.”

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According to Sherman Sanders, business owners need to have a plan in order to keep it running forever.

“Having people involved who wanted to run it felt like a good way to make sure the store stays here and hopefully have a lot of the same atmosphere and culture,” Sherman Sanders said. 

Gryphon’s goal is to maintain the space for the community to come back to again and again. According to Sherman Sanders, the company wants the community to become involved to help maintain the culture and atmosphere. 

“(The goal is) really something that is self-sustaining, that people who are in the community feel is theirs and they have a say in and they want to see it proceed into the future,” Sherman said. “We have people who are thinking about their kids, who are small at this point. They want to see this store here in 10-15 years for those kids.”

Ty Davis can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or Twitter @tydavisACW