COLUMBUS -- For two decades running, Star Trek fans have happily "beamed up" to an unusual business in the Columbus suburb of Blendon Township.
All the while, fans of Star Wars, Stargate, Babylon 5, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, and other TV shows and movies have beamed about the ability of a store called Star Base Columbus to keep up with the myriad trends and collectibles in science fiction and fantasy.
"They always have something unique in a friendly atmosphere where you can go and hang out," said Star Trek fan Bruce Secor, a customer since 1997.
Mr. Secor, who lives in suburban Indianapolis and travels the Midwest in search of sci-fi collectibles, stops by Star Base about six times every year.
"There used to be more stores like this, but they all went out of business or are now just a Web site," Mr. Secor said.
"Visiting Star Base Columbus is like walking into a little sci-fi museum and then finding out you can actually buy this stuff."
The store will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Saturday with an Anniversary Science Fiction Festival offering fun, food, games, music, contests, and exhibits by fans and artists.
Among those who are planning to attend is Charles Connor, who is the "commanding officer" of the USS Maximillian, a Star Trek club that also will celebrate its 20th anniversary Saturday at the festival.
"Star Base Columbus has been a great way to meet other Star Trek and sci-fi fans," said Mr. Connor, 48.
"I haven't seen a store like it anywhere else, and I've looked while attending sci-fi conventions in different cities from the East Coast to Las Vegas," Mr. Connor said.
Mr. Connor said he discovered the club through Star Base visits beginning in 1997, when he lived in Athens, Ohio.
"When I got a job in Columbus, it was great because I already had a social network from the store and a circle of friends who welcomed me to town," he said.
Three Star Trek clubs -- the USS Asgard, USS Columbus, and the Maximillian -- hold monthly meetings at the store and its adjoining warehouse.
Melinda Coates, a Star Trek and sci-fi fan since childhood, began working at the store in 1997 and took over as manager in 2000.
"The people who come here are great -- they're like family," Ms. Coates said. "Star Trek fandom is the glue that holds us together."
That glue -- reinforced by the store's regular support for area charities with food drives and fund-raisers -- has been vital to sustaining what might be the last of a dying breed.
Store founder-owner B.J. Mitias said Star Base Columbus is the only bricks-and-mortar shop of its kind in the Midwest and perhaps in the nation. Among similar stores that have closed in recent years, she said, are the Intergalactic Trading Co. in Orlando, Fla., and Star Base Atlanta in Georgia.
"When we first opened, it was just a little sideline -- a fun thing to do," she said. "I wasn't planning to make a business out of it."
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