Credit: Andrea Bauer

Buying something from a rude and pretentious salesperson can truly make for the “Worst. Shopping experience. Ever.” Especially when you’re buying within a niche market where snobbery can run rampant—you know, something like fixed-gear bikes, or records, or in this case comic books. That’s where Challengers shines. The shop’s laid-back, pleasant staff, headed up by owners W. Dal Bush and Patrick Brower, won’t bat an eye if you approach them with novice questions like “Which issue of Spider-Man did Gwen Stacey die in?” (it was in The Amazing Spider-Man #121, DUH) or “When was Wolverine first introduced?” (in 1974’s The Incredible Hulk #180, COME ON). These guys know their comics and are always happy to use their encyclopedic knowledge to guide you in the right direction based on your tastes, and will never operate with even the slightest hint of attitude that most Comic Book Guys—in Chicago, Springfield, or elsewhere—are known for.