Vincent Zurzolo grew up in Rockaway Beach, Queens in New York City. He’s always loved comic books as a kid. He decided to make a business out of something he loves so he began buying and selling comic books with a friend – he was 15 years old at the time. He started at the bottom of the ladder, he was even selling comic books on the streets of Manhattan. When he graduated in 1993, he was selling comic books part-time through school. Six years later he merged companies with his partner Stephen Fishler. After years of working hard, he eventually achieved success and he is now the co-owner of Metropolis Collectibles, the largest dealership of vintage comics in the world. In 2007 they started a second brand called ComicConnect.com which is the premier online auction company in the world and in 2015 they started Metropolis Gallery which is the only gallery in New York City that focuses on comic books and fantasy art.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Vincent to talk about his journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
I grew up in Rockaway Beach, Queens in New York City. I started as a child who loved comic books. I loved everything about them. The stories, the amazing art, the fantastic heroes and villains. I began buying and selling comic books with a friend while in my teens.
Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?
I’ve been selling comic books since I was 15 years old. I started at the bottom of the ladder, even selling comics on the streets of Manhattan. I worked hard and set goals and I am now the co-owner of Metropolis Collectibles, the largest dealership of vintage comics in the world. I know I would do well but wasn’t sure how I would become #1. I was selling comics part-time through school but when I graduated in 1993, it was only 6 years until I merged companies with my partner Stephen Fishler. From there it was just like Superman, Up, Up and Away!
What is your main source of income?
I’ve designed a lifestyle from the buying, selling, trading and auctioning vintage comic books, original comic art, pop culture toys, and memorabilia.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
In 2007 we started a 2nd brand called ComicConnect.com which is the premier online auction company in the world and in 2015 we started Metropolis Gallery which is the only gallery in NYC that focuses on comic books and fantasy art.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
We use Vero, Facebook, and Instagram.
How did your business stand out?
I believe in our brand. My team is passionate. We believe and know we are the best at what we do. This comes through in everything we do. Our clients know we care about them and treat them with respect and courtesy.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
As much as we incorporate social media, e-newsletters and a variety of online advertising I find good old fashioned phone calls and meeting clients in person make a big difference.
How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
We have inventory and auction offerings that are unparalleled in the world of vintage comics and art. Our location in midtown Manhattan makes us easily accessible by the client in the area as well as those flying through. We hold 5 Guinness Records and are ambassadors of vintage comic book collecting and investing including selling the first comic for a million dollars, Action Comics 1 (first Superman) and the world-record $3.2 million for another Action Comics 1.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I had to make was whether or not to move into a new area of collectibles. We decided against it and to focus on what we were doing. I am convinced we made the right decision.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
Looking back, before starting a brand new lease I wish we explored buying a place in Manhattan as the real estate market has exploded.
What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
I’ve learned several things. While money can’t buy you happiness it can make life a little easier in certain respects. I feel very blessed in my life. I do something I am passionate about. I have a great partner and team around me. People love investing in and collecting comics and there passion further fuels my passion.
What new business would you love to start?
I would love to start a restaurant. I grew up in the restaurant business. My father was a restaurateur and chef specializing in Italian food. It is in my blood. I know if I wasn’t in the comic business I’d be in the food business.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
That is a tough question as I feel so blessed with what I have right now. Back in 1996 I started a comic convention business. I left it quickly do to differences with my partner at the time. Looking back on it, I wish I’d have found a way to make it work as it has become a very lucrative business.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself that even when times were lean, not to get so down as things will get better. I fought through some tough periods where sales weren’t what I hoped they would be and I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision staying in the business. I stayed the course thankfully, but if I could go back in time I’d have given myself a big pep talk to make it a little easier.
Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
You should read a lot of them. Some of my favorites are the 1-minute manager, the 4-hour workweek, Who moved my cheese and Tony Robbin’s Unlimited Power CD set. The CD set changed my life.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
My mother always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. My father always told me that knowledge is power. It’s important to know that my parents came to America from Italy with nothing. My father hardly spoke English and worked his way up from being a dishwasher to pizza man to chef and restaurateur. My mother grew up part of her life in an orphanage. She had a very limited education but the wisdom to know how important it was for me to study. Without the love, guidance, and wisdom they imparted to me, there is no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Believe in yourself, arm yourself for battle with knowledge and an unyielding thirst to succeed. No matter what obstacles you face, overcome them. I started out competing against other dealers who had much more money and knowledge than I did. I saved my money, learned my craft but early on also utilized something I was good at from growing up in the restaurant business – customer service. My ability to give that little extra to my clients has paid dividends throughout my career.