We mentioned the other day that comic book stores were to expect backstock distribution delays in the next few weeks as Lunar Distribution, the DC Comics direct market exclusive distributor created by their biggest customer, DCBS, is in the middle of moving locations. Lunar and DCBS are to move from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to New Haven, Indiana, along with InstockTrades from Memphis, Tennessee. The companies will all now be located at Cedar Oak Industrial Park, in a facility recently built as a shell building by the owners of Continental Diamond Tool, just east of 10511 Rose Ave. in New Haven, adjacent to U.S. Route 24 and less than a half-mile from I-469, for those with local knowledge. Lunar Distribution will lease the entire 150,000-square-foot structure and occupy about 100,000 square feet, subleasing the remainder to DCBS and InStockTrades.
"This is a huge step forward for us. Locating our operations in New Haven will allow for optimal efficiency," said Christina Merkler, co-owner at Lunar Distribution. "Our commitment to customer service will allow for continued growth for years to come… Over the last 22 years, we have found that the Ft. Wayne area is a great place for business to grow. In the Midwest, Indiana has become an apex for the distribution industry. Our central location between Indianapolis, Chicago, and Columbus makes the Fort Wayne/New Haven area a valuable asset for our logistical needs. The location is conveniently located close to the 469 bypass and FedEx shipping facilities, which will also be beneficial to our employees and customers. The low cost of living, numerous growth opportunities, and less saturated market showed us the potential in staying in Indiana."
As a result, Lunar Distribution, which currently employs 65 associates, will hire up to 90 new employees. Likewise, DCBS/InStockTrades employs 32 associates in Indiana (in addition to about 30 in Tennessee) and will make up to 40 new hires. And yes, they are hiring customer service representatives, order pickers and packers, forklift drivers, tax specialists, and more. Interested applicants can email resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Lunar Distribution up to $625,000 in conditional tax credits and DCBS up to $325,000 in conditional tax credits, totaling almost a million dollars, based on the companies' job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the companies are eligible to claim incentives once Indiana-based workers or"Hoosiers" are hired. In addition, northeast Indiana Works will provide the companies with additional hiring and training assistance. Lunar plans to hire up to 90 new workers with DCBS and InStockTrades planning to add up to 40 jobs.
DCBS was founded in 1999 in the basement of the Merkler family's Fort Wayne home to become the largest online, direct-to-consumer comic and pop-culture retailer in the country from Calhoun Street in Fort Wayne. In 2004, the Merklers formed InStockTrades, a sister company, which now occupies a 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Memphis.
Lunar Distribution LLC was founded by the Merklers in April 2020 when Diamond Comic Distributors temporarily shut down due to the pandemic, and DC Comics looked for alternative direct market distributors. At the time, to accommodate the rapid growth, the company expanded into a 25,000-square-foot warehouse at 415 Ley Rd. in Fort Wayne.
"Our central location, pro-business environment, and talented workforce continue to draw businesses to Indiana," said Interim Secretary of Commerce Jim Staton. "With resources designed to support growth from start to scale, Indiana is committed to building an ecosystem that attracts investment from businesses like Discount Comic Book Service and Lunar Distribution and enables them to compete on a global scale."
"This is a big win for our community," New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael said. "The shell building that will house these companies is just being completed, and it's already being filled by these growing businesses. That's a strong testament to the business-friendly conditions we've created here in New Haven."
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Lunar Distribution and DCBS a total of up to $950,000 in conditional tax credits, which the companies will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. Northeast Indiana Works plans to provide additional hiring and training assistance.