DreamHaven Books specializes in new and used science fiction, fantasy, horror, film and media books, comic books, and role-playing games.
DreamHaven is owned and operated by Greg Ketter in two Minneapolis locations, one in dinkytown, one in lynlake.
Greg got started by hauling his collection of monster magazines, particularly Famous Monsters of Filmland, around to conventions. In 1997, he opened his first store above Gray's Drugs in dinkytown. The first location was closet-sized, narrow enough that he could touch both walls at the same time.
The store proved successful enough that in a few years he moved to a slightly larger closet, still in dinkytown, and then to a first-story storefront on the corner of 13th Avenue and 4th street, where it stayed for several years. It was here that I first started shopping at DreamHaven, at the tender age of 13.
In 1989, the store was moved to a larger location across the street, 1309 4th St. SE, former location of a record store, current location of a different record store. Business went well there. When The Source closed up shop immediately downstairs, DreamHaven bought a lot of their inventory and took over their space, becoming the largest single science fiction and fantasy bookstore in the United States.
In 1993, Greg and one of the managers, Peter, decided to open a second location in uptown, where they would carry some of the weirder material, including bondage books, beat poetry, and independent comics. The new space was small, and came with a hostile landlord and a lousy heating system. I had turned 18 just before they opened this space, and since I was finally old enough to handle the adult materials legally, they hired me. It was at this point that I found out the reason to work at DreamHaven is not the hours, which are bad, or the pay, which is low, but the discount, which is sizeable.
Also at this point Michael Drivas, current proprietor of Big Brain Comics in downtown Minneapolis, was hired. Michael became the comics manager, running the dinkytown store until sometime in the early 90s, when he got into an argument with Greg about how to deal with the comics. During the argument, Greg told Michael that if he was so smart, he should open his own comic book store. Michael quit to open Big Brain and is currently very successful, winning Best of the Twin Cities regularly. DreamHaven has lacked a comics manager since this time, much to the detriment of both the store, which makes its rent on comics, and the other full-time employees, who have to take up the slack. Greg keeps saying he’ll hire someone, but after 8 years, no one believes him anymore.
In the mid 90s, the uptown store and the upstairs of the dinkytown store were moved to lynlake, where Greg and his wife had bought a building at 912 West Lake Street. The contents of the uptown store went into a side room with a sign on it for the DreamHaven Circus Sideshow. This area became adults only. The rest of the stock went out on the main floor, although the role-playing games were not moved to lynlake out of courtesy to Phoenix Games, a gaming store across the street, who had agreed in return not to carry comic books. This was a deal DreamHaven had tried to make with the Source, when they were open in dinkytown, but the Source never kept their half of the bargain.
The new store space was larger than DreamHaven had previously occupied, and boasted a large amount of storage space in several rooms. The outside was painted purple. The inside was a light grey, covered with shelves and posters. The back room is white. Problems with the building ensued almost immediately, with a leaky roof and no heat in the back rooms, including the Sideshow and the mail order room. Despite Minnesota winters, employees wearing several layers of clothing, and customer complaints, Greg has opted for space heaters in the back room rather than getting the heat fixed.
On a different note, DreamHaven is involved in publishing and with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. DreamHaven has published several books and comics over the years, both as DreamHaven and as Palliard Press, which was created largely for Greg to publish Phil Foglio’s XXXenophile. Also published under Palliard are collections of Tim Barela’s Leonard and Larry cartoons, and other works by Phil Foglio, including Buck Godot and Girl Genius. DreamHaven has also published a number of books under DreamHaven, including The Night We Buried Road Dog by Jack Cady; The Arbitrary Placement of Walls by Martha Soukup; a John Crowley chapbook called An Earthly Mother Sits and Sings; two novels by Dennis Etchison, The Death Artist and California Gothic; Now We Are Sick, a book of twisted poetry edited by Neil Gaiman and Stephen Jones; Angels and Visitations by Neil Gaiman, Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Charles Vess and proceeds going to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Neil Gaiman’s Babylon 5 script, Day of the Dead, his cd, Warning: Contains Language, and a chapbook, On Cats and Dogs.
Information comes partly from www.dreamhavenbooks.com but mostly from personal experience.