Manga is more popular now than ever before. And while it seems like big-time retailers have a stranglehold on the market, local U.S. manga shop Takara Cafe is taking on its competitors head-on with incredible deals and a foundation built on a community that you won’t find anywhere else.
Most of the big retailers nowadays are adequate at best when it comes to community engagement. Either they barely make the consumer feel involved or simply not at all. But this is where Takara Cafe blows its competition out of the water. With a community Discord server that can also be used to garner reward points for the site, this 5-star rated local U.S. business focuses on building a true community as a backbone that can be credited for its recent success.
Takara Cafe CEO Cory Thomulka has made building a community the primary focus since the very beginning. Although he only recently got into manga starting with Demon Slayer back in December of 2020, the manga seller started his business with a Facebook group and a community page earlier that year called “The Anime Pirates.”
“I would host these tournaments very similar to how Anime Corner has their polls actually,” said Thomulka. “Then I would mass share them to all the anime groups across Facebook to gain exposure. As time went on, the page actually became pretty popular so, me being me, I wanted to monetize it. Why not do what you love and get paid to do it?“
Just as many businesses start, there are trials and tribulations. Thomulka will tell you that himself and even over on the official Takara Cafe Twitter. But coming up with the name “Takara Cafe” became a foundation of this small business after a brief period of decision-making and listening to the voices of the community.
“I didn’t really think that [The Anime Pirates] was a very marketable name for a business storefront,” says Thomulka. “I ended up with Nakama Café and Takara Café. Café because eventually, I wanted to open a manga café. Takara means treasure, so I figured that was cool, kinda related to One Piece, and when people shop with me, they’re getting treasure. Sounded great to me. Nakama means friends in Japanese, I didn’t think this was a bad name either, but my community at the time really took a liking to Takara Café. Also funny to note my initials are CT and the business is TC.“
From there on, Thomulka’s love for collecting manga and figures grew even more. So much so that he first attempted to dive into the manga community on YouTube. But over time, he realized that a business selling manga started to look like the way to go. And now, thanks to social media and Thomulka’s hard work, Takara Cafe’s growth in the past 5-6 months has been staggering since the business first took off over a year ago. And while anyone from anywhere in the world can buy from Takara Cafe, Thomulka says he rather see the “community save as much money as possible in the hobby” due to costly international shipping fees.
“I was still working a day job at a time, and I had to travel across the Northeast,” said Thomulka. “This enabled me to do manga shopping hauls at a lot of different comic shops. Upon shopping at said comic/manga shops, I would talk to the employees/owners. Two, in particular, gave me my first two distributor recommendations. At the time I was just like “Wow! I can sell manga!?”. So I literally went home and applied for the retail accounts with those distributors the same day I found out. The rest is history.”
Takara Cafe Patreon and Rewards
“The rest is history” indeed. Takara Cafe has become the go-to place for manga collectors all across the United States and Canada, not just for buying their favorite manga, but also for a welcoming community. With an established Discord server and set-up Patreon for the business that’ll get you deals on manga you won’t find anywhere else, Takara Cafe is setting itself apart.
“The two biggest ways to help the growth of the business would be to continue to grow the Patreon, and to launch the Takara merchandise,” said Thomulka. “I see a much more direct impact with those versus manga sales alone. I will not be able to expand the business if I only continue to sell manga. These two things are the next expansions of my business that I will be focusing on for the rest of the year.“
Patreon isn’t just the only means of scoring reward points either. Doing something as simple as leaving a review on the site can earn you points. And, of course, buying manga from the site can also do the same. While some other manga sites do it as well, there’s truly no other site out that’s better to save money on collecting manga. However, joining the Takara Cafe Patreon is the best possible move to save money.
One of the biggest positives about Takara Cafe is its top-of-the-line packaging. As a fellow manga collector, this was a huge thing for me when I ordered manga from here for the first time. No other major retailers come close to Takara Cafe’s packaging and how perfect of condition the manga comes in (along with free stickers for every purchase). Despite being recently overwhelmed with the number of orders that have begun to pour in, the business doesn’t falter. The site is currently rated 5 out of 5 stars with nothing but wonderful things to say about the site. But don’t just hear it from me, let the recent Twitter reviews confirm it as well:
While we are still waiting for the Takara Cafe merchandise to drop, following Takara Cafe on Twitter and joining the official Discord are the best options to stay up to date on everything going on with the business. A unique feature that Takara Cafe offers that others don’t is the constantly updated order spreadsheet, where you can see all the orders that are currently being processed and their updates, including your own. A very small, yet streamlined, detail to keep track of your order that you won’t find anywhere else.
Until then, Takara Cafe is growing into something special. As Thomulka would put it, it’s not “just a place to buy manga”. It’s a community. It’s a place where manga collectors can converse with others from all around the world. Whether it’s to talk about manga, review it, or trade it, the community Takara Cafe is creating the power of social media, personal dedication, and mutual love for anime and manga is something we as fans cannot overlook. And Thomulka made sure to let the community know with a heartfelt statement:
“I may still be growing as a brand but the journey is only beginning. Takara Café has been in business 15-16 months now but the last 3-4 months have been where the most growth has happened. The brand is growing more rapidly than even I had anticipated, and I can only continue to remain grateful to my community. Without social media, it would have been near impossible for me to achieve what I have as a pure brick-and-mortar store with no social media and no e-commerce community. This business and community means the world to me, so long story short—Thank you all.”