Behind the Scenes: A trek for Trekkies to the “Star Trek” super store

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From the May 16, 2013 edition

I’m surprised my spell check didn’t autocorrect when I tried to write Trekkie with one “k.” You would think at least one “Star Trek” fan would have been on the team that developed this software.

“Star Trek” fans are admittedly and proudly a little geeky and a lot devoted, but there are also so many generations of them.

Take, for example, the unassuming blue building on the North Side that houses a “Star Trek” super store that has been hawking all the Vulcan, Klingon, et al., stuff the community can handle for nearly 21 years … 21 years! Granted, the store sells other sci-fi shows’ stuff, but “Star Trek” is its Tang and dehydrated mashed potatoes.

Also loyal: Melinda Coates. She has been working at Star Base for 15 years.

“It’s fun,” Coates said. “I can really indulge my inner child.”

Indeed. This super store (kind of misleading, it’s a small shop) is super fun, even if you only linger on the outskirts of sci-fi fandom. The most fair-weather pop-culture nerd will appreciate the changing-room doors, painted to look like Doctor Who’s time-travelling TARDIS. Internet sales have helped boost the business, although Coates laments the web’s role in the decline of the brick-and-mortar style sci-fi stores.

The Star Base staff will be at the Polaris movie theater this Thursday for the premiere of the latest movie in the Trekkie cannon, JJ Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness.” They’ll have some of the store’s top-sellers — oscillating Tribbles and fleet member uniforms — but they won’t have toy gun replicas. The Colorado movie theater shooting at “The Dark Knight Rises” put a stop to bringing those to movie theaters for a long time, Coates said, even if it’s just part of a costume.

That restriction is just another ebb and flow of being a lifelong Trekkie. When it comes to cult TV shows, “Star Trek” is king.

“Sometimes people are troubled in their lives, and they don’t have anywhere else to go but here,” Coates said. “We are family.”

I’m sure that getting to sit on the store’s sick Captain Picard chair also holds some appeal.