CONCORD, N.C. — With NASCAR returning to Charlotte this weekend with 100% of fans in the stands, local business is breathing a sigh of relief.

A comic book business new to the Concord Mills area said they were bracing for their first race last year, only to have the pandemic stop them in their tracks.

What You Need To Know

  • Coca-Cola 600 has a regular economic impact of $400 million on the local area

  • After last year’s race with no fans, businesses in the area are ready for a return to normal

  • Race will return with 100% fan capacity on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

Colton Sykes is a product of the recent comic book renaissance.

“I used to do it as a kid, I would read comics here and there, and I got out of it as everyone does,” Sykes said in his Concord Mills store.

His interest wained until college when a friend told him to watch one of the 2015 hit Marvel superhero movies.

“I really wanted to know more about the infinity stones, so I went to my local comic shop, and he just helped me find more books about what I wanted to read,” Sykes explained.

From there, a new passion was born. Now, he’s the managing partner of the new Ssalefish Comics location in Concord, just a mile and a half from the Speedway.

“People were looking for a local comic shop; they didn’t want to drive 25 minutes to Charlotte or Salsbury,” Sykes added.

The business opened just a day and a half before the Concord Mills area, and most of North Carolina shut down with the snap of a finger.

Amazon and eBay sales kept them in business till May, when they were able to reopen. Since then, Sykes said business is booming even without a race every weekend.

But with race weekend finally here, he’s got some words to describe what’s on the horizon.

“Excited, terrified, and hopeful,” Sykes said with a smile.

A year and three months after opening, It’s finally NASCAR time.

Sykes thinks their first race weekend with fans will be an adventure. According to Sykes, the locals have warned their parking lot will be full and hard to get to.

“They say it’s the busiest time of the year; it beats Christmas apparently,” Sykes said.

Always the entrepreneur, he’s already busy adding tools to his utility belt.

“I’m definitely going to see if there’s anything I can get for the store to have, anything NASCAR related,” Sykes pondered.

But a short drive to the Speedway is a good problem to have, according to Sykes. He’s hoping the comic book, and NASCAR fans can trade paint and put up the bat signal directing people to his new business for years to come.

In a regular year with a normal number of fans, Speedway official Jonathan Coleman said their economic impact on local business is $400 million.

Last year, Coleman said everyone in the area felt the pinch of no fans.

“I mean, all you had to do was drive down Bruton Smith Boulevard during race week and not see the campers, not see the cars in the parking lots. And I think that there is not just excitement here at the Speedway for the races coming up, but certainly in the surrounding community. Where that ripple effect of having such a big event really carries out to those restaurants and businesses up and down Bruton Smith Boulevard, up and down 29, even up and down I-85,” Coleman said.

But not this year. The Coca-Cola 600 will wave the green flag this weekend on Sunday, May 30 at 6:00 p.m., fully reopen with 100% fan capacity.