The Garden of Earthly Delights, located in Northeast Philadelphia, houses thousands of collectibles as well as numerous volumes of hundreds of different comic books, including some that date back to the 1960s.
Owner Chuck Feldman has made it his mission to have a plethora of memorabilia.
One of the most intriguing objects in the store is a framed case that holds a gun used in the movie The Godfather. Other objects include former baseball player Darryl Strawberry’s game-worn pants, and former Philadelphia Phillies player Darren Daulton’s game-worn leg protector.
The store also houses thousands of comic books and graphic novels, which range from early Spiderman comics to the newest Walking Dead graphic novel and comic strip.
In the basement of the Garden of Earthly Delights sits a game room where people of all ages come to duel. The games they play include Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering.
The games involve players drawing cards and “fighting” each other with the various card types.
“Games can last a few minutes, but duels can last much longer,” Yu-Gi-Oh! card dueler Christopher Brown said.
Brown comes to the Garden Of Earthly Delights most Saturdays and joins people like fellow Yu-Gi-Oh! player Dakota Salvitti.
“I come every Saturday, but sometimes I miss a week,” Salvitti said. “It’s a great place to come and hang out with cool people. I usually end up having a great time.”
Store employee Phil Holtje said the game room has become a place where kids and adults alike can come and duel.
“It’s a place where kids can come and parents know where they are,” Holtje said. “It a good place for everyone.”
Kids are always popping in and looking at the new collections. Holtje said they get new merchandise every day and new stock every week.
Feldman also manages the Holocaust Awareness Museum at the nearby Klein Jewish Community Center. Holtje, who also works at the museum, said a JCC member has slowly been selling his extensive comic book collection to the Garden Of Earthly Delights. In return, Feldman has put all the proceeds from the sales towards Klein JCC and the museum.
The Garden Of Earthly Delights offers memberships to its customers, who come from the five-county Philadelphia area and as far as northern New Jersey, according to Holtje.
Memberships are renewed on a yearly basis, and cost only $5.
“These memberships give members huge deals on everything in the store, including 20-30 percent off full comic books and graphic novels,” Holtje said.
The Garden also sells Magic: The Gathering cards, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and sports cards.
Some of the Saturday players have been dueling for years and they all have their reasons for loving the game.
“I’ve loved Yu-Gi-Oh! since I was a kid,” Salvitti said.
“Yeah, I’ve loved and currently do love Yu-Gi-Oh! since I was just a little guy,” Brown said. “Coming here on Saturdays gives me a nice break from everything else going on.”
The comic book and collectibles store hasn’t been at 7907 Bustleton Ave. for too long; in fact, just 10 years ago it was an ice cream shop. Feldman bought the property and moved the comic book store in.
“They’ve got so many things here,” Salvitti said. “Anything a person could want out of a comic book store and gaming area. They even have comics from 60 years ago.”
Salvitti also said he has met a bunch of cool people playing in the game room, a thought that Brown agreed with.
“You meet some good people and some bad people,” Brown said. “You find the people you want to hang out with. We’re mostly all friends here.”
But Holtje may have summed it up best.
“I keep getting surprised at the amount of different things we have here,” Holtje said.
– Text, images and video by Ean Dunn