Game paused: Zoning issues delay game store opening

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016

John McNabb had planned to open his comic book and games store Saturday.

But instead of the $1 comic books, T-shirts, games and gaming accessories and instead of customers and fans, McNabb’s business on Harrison Street is closed.

It will remain closed at least until January.

On McNabb’s website, under his blog, he’s posted his initial grand opening sign behind jail bars.

The post is headlined, “The Battle for The Magic City’s First Comic Book Store.”

Below that, he points the finger straight at the city.

“Within 12 hours of our announcement we were informed by the city council president as well as the public works dept. supervisor, that there were multiple violations in this activity and if we followed through with the grand opening we would be charged and arrested on site,” he writes.

McNabb alleges that zoning confusion at City Hall is the culprit, but public works director James Hall says there was no confusion, at least not from his end.

“Oh no, we got a map up on the wall,” Hall said. “It’s mounted on the wall.”

The issue is the location. The home is McNabb’s, but it is in a neighborhood Hall said it is not zoned to host a retail outlet. According to Hall, McNabb told city officials he planned to have an online store, which would have been permitted.

“He got an occupational license for an online comic book store. Now he’s trying to open a comic book store on Harrison Street,” he said.

The bottom line is, McNabb must now go before the zoning commission and seek a waiver, but the commission does not meet until later this month. If the waiver is granted, it must then be approved by the city council, meaning approval would be months away.

McNabb said he’s also upset because, years ago, he operated a computer repair business in the same location.

“We’d never had any trouble in the past operating a business there,” he said.

Hall said he didn’t know anything about that.

“If he had an occupation license on it, we didn’t know about it,” said Hall. But the public works director also pointed out that a game and card store is quite different from a computer repair establishment.

McNabb has said he would like to host card and board game tournaments at the business, and Hall said makes a difference.

“Repairing one computer is different than having a bunch of kids over to play games,” Hall said.

McNabb said he is still weighing options.

“I’m still waiting to hear back from my attorney whether we have any legal grounds to open anyway, because we have the business license and they’ve approved of us to do business in this location … but it looks like this whole thing has been pushed back four months,” he said.

In the meantime, McNabb said anyone who would like to purchase gaming equipment or comic books may do so through his online store, which is operational. That website is