The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Collector’s Authority: the Southside’s hidden comic book store

Collector’s Authority: the Southside’s hidden comic book store - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Store owner Pete Contero, 54, behind the counter at Collector's Authority on Jan. 28, 2022. Contero has provided the south side of San Antonio with collectibles and comics for 25 years. Photo by Amber Esparza

Tucked into a corner of a Southside shopping mall, Collector’s Authority has nearly 75 thousand comic books in stock.

Ranging from Marvel to D.C. to independent artists, owner Pete Contero said Collector’s Authority has a variety of comics available.

“We deal with new comic books and back issues,” Contero said. “Back issues are older issues that come off the shelf. These are older issues that are from the early 2000s, ’90s, ’80s, ’70s, ’60s and ’50s.”

Contero and his brother-in-law, Mario Delgado, opened the shop in 1996. Since then, it has relocated three times. Despite changing locations, Collector’s Authority has remained in the Southside. 

“I went to McCollum High School and so did my brother-in-law,” Contero said. “After having three garages full of comic books and merchandise, we were about to invest in a fourth one. That’s when we said, ‘no, let’s open up a shop’ and we did.” 

The items in the garages they owned turned into Collector’s Authority’s starting inventory when it opened.

In addition to comic books, Collector’s Authority offers graphic novels, trade paperbacks and hardcovers. 

Emmanuel Alvarez, 23, flips through hundreds of comic books at Collector’s Authority on Jan. 28, 2022. Alvarez says he likes to visit comic book stores because there is always a chance to meet people who share the same interest as him. Photo by Amber Esparza

Contero said within the last few years, the store has had to downsize. He began to cut back in the beginning of 2020, right before the pandemic began. 

“When we first started off, we used to carry everything,” Contero said. “As time went on, we saw where the market wasn’t going so we stepped away from that… I’ve got to deal with what was making me stay in business, and that was comic books.”

Contero’s interest in comic books started when he started getting enough money to afford them. Contero said when he began purchasing comic books, they were around 60 to 75 cents each.

“(Comic books) were much cheaper than they are nowadays,” Contero said. “I love to read so I was always buying the cheap comic books to read.”

During the height of the pandemic, Contero said he had to close down the shop for nearly a month and a half. Now that Collector’s Authority is back open, Contero still asks for customers to wear face masks.

“I just follow the rules,” Contero said. “People have to wear masks… I’m not just trying to save myself, I’m also trying to save the next person too.”

“I have a lot of regular customers that actually become close friends,” Contero said. “They hang out and we talk shop.”

Although Collector’s Authority does not carry anime or manga, Contero said he tries to help customers find what they’re looking for. 

“Unfortunately, I do not get a lot of calls for Manga or Anime comics,” Contero said. “I can try to reorder for them… or I can refer them to a few stores on the Northside that I know deal with them.”

Referring customers to shops around the city is something Contero does frequently. 

“If I don’t have an issue (someone is looking for) I always recommend to hit up other shops before shopping online,” Contero said. “Pass the wealth around. Keep it here before you have to give it to some other city.”

Collector’s Authority is located at 1534 SE Military Dr #101, San Antonio, TX 78214. Visit their Facebook page for more information. 


This story was updated at 11:19 a.m. Feb. 4, 2022, to add a link to the store.

This story was updated at 11:35 a.m. Dec. 1, 2022, to adjust photo formatting.

About the Author

Asiah Mendoza
Assistant Editor
Asiah Mendoza is a communications junior with a minor in psychology. Born and raised in San Antonio, she enjoys writing and listening to music in her free time. Her favorite things to do are go to concerts and discover new artists. After graduation, she hopes to combine her two interests and become a music journalist.

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