Amanda Skinner was understandably a little tired heading to work on a snowy and rainy Thursday morning.
It’s been a busy few months for the 28-year-old as she prepared to open her new store, Heroes & Hobbies, a comic and collectible book and toy store in Mount Pearl.
After working day and night to get things ready, she said her grand opening on Saturday was a huge success.
Never in her sci-fi dreams did this avid collector and superhero-loving St. John’s woman think she would own her own business surrounded by things she loves.
“It never really sunk in until the other day,” said Skinner, who worked for years as a bartender. “I was driving to work and it struck me. It’s just so surreal. It’s really hard to believe sometimes.”
It’s more of a surprise when you consider the fact that just three years ago, Skinner was in a hospital bed, having been the victim of a hit and run.
Depressed and with no income, things looked bleak for her.
“There were a lot of dark days,” she said, recalling the long and difficult recovery from the incident.
It happened Jan. 5, 2015, on Kenmount Road, just in front of the Salvation Army thrift store. Skinner had just gotten off work from her job at Time Masters comic store and was headed to a bank in the Avalon Mall to cash her paycheque. As the walk sign turned and she began crossing the street on the crosswalk, a car heading east struck her and took off.
Witnesses at the scene said she was thrown several feet in the air.
“Some people told me it was like seeing a garbage bag being thrown out of the back of a truck,” Skinner said.
“I don’t remember much after I got hit. I just remember waking up on the ground at one point and again in the hospital.”
“Some people told me it was like seeing a garbage bag being thrown out of the back of a truck. I don’t remember much after I got hit.” — Amanda Skinner
Skinner suffered several broken bones, lacerations and bruises to much of her body.
Police later tracked down the driver, who had been operating the vehicle with no licence or insurance. The driver died a short time after from heart issues.
Skinner remained focused on getting back on her feet.
“It took two years before I came around,” said Skinner, who underwent intense physical therapy to regain use of a broken leg. “I couldn’t do the things I could do before. I couldn’t even sleep right because I had to sleep on the couch for six months because the bed was too high.”
She also had to make the heartbreaking decision to quit her job at Time Masters because at the time there were so many steps to get to the main entrance.
During her recovery, friends and family held two benefits for her to help with day-to-day expenses. A friend even paid off a Simon and Patrick acoustic guitar at Reid’s Music Store, where Skinner had put it on layaway months before.
“I had great people around me — friends, family, people I didn’t even know,” she said. “I wouldn’t have made it through without them.”
Rejuvenated by the support, Skinner went back to school and completed a business course at Eastern Academy.
Tired of the roller-coaster ride of temporary jobs, Skinner made the decision to open her own business.
“After I finished the last temporary job I had, I sat in my car and thought, I can’t keep doing this,” she said. “So, I decided it was time to take the plunge.”
Skinner approached Futurpreneur Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs for grants to get the business started.
Heroes & Hobbies, located at 835 Topsail Rd. — coincidentally in the same plaza at Reid’s Music Store — has a wide selection of toys, such as action figures, statues and collectibles) from Marvel, DC Comics, Transformers, Star Wars, movies and TV shows, models, board games and comics.
“I love all this stuff,” said Skinner, who hopes to attract customers this weekend, when Sci-Fi on the Rock 12 is held in St. John’s.
“I have two younger brothers, so I grew up playing with Dinkies and action figures.”
The most popular items at her store, she said, have been the Star Wars black series, as well as legends and pop action figures.
Skinner is proof that dark days can lead to brighter days.
“I feel so much better about things now,” she said. “It’s really hard work. I’m here seven days a week. But I’m glad I did it. You just never know where life takes you, but you’ve got to take a chance.”