WBSS Memories Part 1 – The Warner Brothers Studio Store
March 4, 2009

In what seems like ages ago (1993), I had the coolest job in the world.  I was in charge of one of the 107 Warner Brother Studio Store Animation Art Galleries, and loving every minute of it.  Original production cels, bronze statues, limited editions, lithographs, and even movie prop replicas (before they were fashionable), were all on display in my little corner of the store. Once a week was akin to Christmas time, as new product would roll in encased in HUGE boxes.  The gallery was the place where all the hip product was at, and there certainly was a lot of it.  It’s not every day you get to lug around $5,000 Superman bronze statues, ya know?  :)

Oh, and what a store it was!  Looney Tunes, DC Comics Characters, and even old-time WB movies were the theme of a myriad of product categories.  Shirts, hats and other commonplace items you’d find in any theme store…all the way to dinnerware, bobble-heads, and blankets.  This place had it all, and it was an incredibly fun place to work.  As you can see, there was an actual movie marquee that showcased upcoming events (one of my Gallery Receptions is highlighted on the front), and large fiberglass statues were scattered throughout the store.  The last shot is double-exposed, but if you block out the Taz football player you’ll see what was in the back left of the store…huge 7-foot statues of Superman & Batman jumping off a ledge.  Too cool!





This blog is the first of a multi-part "story" that I decided to put together since I found a lot of my old WB memorabilia that I had saved, along with a few pictures.  Hopefully I can make each part interesting enough, since a lot of the merchandise is neigh-impossible to find these days (especially the gallery pieces) and I do have some neat stories to tell ( like the conference in Burbank that gave me several once-in-a-lifetime experiences).  This is a shot from the beginning of that week-long conference of the entire Northeast gallery staff.  It’s sad that I don’t remember all of their names (though I do remember a lot), but my memory isn’t what it once was when I could rattle off what scene each production cel I had on my walls was from (no matter the cartoon).

Top row, left-to-right : me, Greg Dorata, Kurt, Chuck Brouilette (Gallery Regional Mgr.), Mark
Middle row, left-to-right : Leah (standing), unknown, Glen, Julie Rea, Rich Aiello,
unknown (Store RM), Lori (Store RM), Drew
Bottom row (seated), left-to-right : Ken, Hal Greenberg, Mo (my Store RM)

Stay ‘tooned’ for part two, where I’ll go into the story of the WBSS Green Lantern "square face" animated lithograph, and it’s never-produced companion piece that I came up with and pitched to Gallery Corporate.



Read other articles by ChipCataldo.





  • Toythinker says:

    HOLY CRAP…! I was the AMIT for Store 49 in St. Louis…I remember when our Gallery Manager went there…she was canned not long after…I miss those good ol’ days…!

  • Jeff Cope Jeff Cope says:

    Man, I miss the WBSS. That place rocked.

    I worked at one in Santa Clara, CA (Valley Fair Mall) briefly around ’95 during Christmas. So much great stuff. We had one here in Columbus at the Tuttle Crossing Mall until the chain went belly up. It was a small store w/o much of the cool decor, but I still miss it. Looking forward to future installments Chipster.

  • bnjmnrlyr says:

    Chip, I worked at the WBSS in Cleveland way back in 96, 97. Gallery staff as well (never made it to manager but I was next in line before I moved on). Used to love that store. I would wakl into work and all the comic geeks would come flying over to see the newest production cels, Alex Ross ltd. Ed. (I still have the 1st JLA release on my wall).

    That Superman Bronze was so impressive. As were the Chuck Jones pieces, Cel sales (remember the phone in bids for $250 a cel?), maquettes, ltd. ed.s, collector plates …

    I was so sad when the stores closed their doors. I still keep in touch with many of the people I was friends with back in those days. We get together on odd occasions (we all live in different states now) and challenge eachother to memory games from the video wall (We choreographed a dance to Quad City DJ’s when they were on the wall. We were so stupid back then.)

    Thanks for starting this trip down memory lane, can’t wait to see where else this goes.

  • CantinaDan says:

    Good stuff, Chip. Looking forward to the next installment!

  • One of my favorite items in my collection is from the Warner Bros. Studio Store, a “Superman Milk” bottle from “Kent Dairies” with a S:TAS Man Of Steel on the front. I really miss that store, too.

  • Dave Ziegler says:

    Hey, Chip, I worked at WBSS at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace from 93-95. Those were, indeed, some fun times. It was Vegas, so it seems like we ALWAYS had someone famous coming in. My favorite? Lynda Carter. She was so tall and sooo beautiful. Although my 2nd favorite memory would be a bunch of us getting Kelsey Grammar to say “Wile E. Coyote: Super Genius,” when he came in once. Yes, it was completely nerdy, and he was a SUPER great sport about it.

    Can’t wait to hear more of your story…

  • David says:

    EVERY visit to Crossgates, I would make my parents take me to KayBee and the WB store! Remember marvin the Martain’s spaceship that kids could climb in? It had clips from the cartoons playing inside! And i loved the Superman and Batman statues. Though my favorite thing was in the NYC WB store. They had an elevator where it was glass so you could see going up and down and they had a full-sized statue of Superman underneath. So everytime the elevator went up, it looked like Superman was aving everybody! And everytime it went down…that made less sense. Unless someone had foolishly brought some Kryptonite in with them.

  • JuliusMarx says:

    I miss my local store too. It was in the Glendale Galleria. I loved looking through all the production cell stuff and I always wanted all the Alex Ross prints but was too broke at the time. I still have all the Alex Ross plates on display though.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Very cool. I still have my keys on the Superman S-shield key chain a friend hooked me up with from there. And my son still has the T-shirt I picked up there with 10 DC heroes on it, all those years ago. Great store.

    Looking forward to part II.

  • Ham Salad Ham Salad says:

    My brother used to work at the Glendale, CA WBSS. I loved visiting him at work. When the store closed he took home that Daffy statue with the briefcase you have pictured. He never did anything with it, but it was still cool.

    I remember going to one of the many signings with the BTAS staff. I got a TRU Arkham Asylum 4-pack signed by Bruce Timm, Glenn Murakami, Paul Dini and a bunch of others I don’t recall at the moment. I should dig up a picture.

    My brother even managed to get the #1 Wonder Woman maquette. I don’t recall if it was the animated or comic version, though.

  • Boy, if there is one place I miss it is most certainly the WBSS.

  • Scott Rogers Scott Rogers says:

    I agree, losing the WB stores was a HUGE loss to the comic/cartoon fan community. I didn’t have deep pockets enough to buy everything I saw there, but I still have a few collector’s plates, some glasses, a Batman wall light plaque, the Batman animated series maquettes and the first of the two BTAS rogues gallery lithos. There were sooo many items that I kick myself that I never bought while the store was open. It was always a treat to go to the WB store…

  • wadsworth says:

    i grew up in chatham and frequented that (crossgates) wbss monthly, if not weekly. it was pretty much the only cool place in the mall. in the late 90′s i moved to seattle and quickly became a frequent shopper there as well. when i heard of aol/time warner’s evil plan to discontinue the retail stores i was crushed. although i did take full advantage of the fire sale, the closing was probably one of the saddest days of my life.

    • JSAWB says:

      Great times at the WBSS.

      I bought many a gifts there for friends and for myself the JSA Alex Ross Lithograph that was probably at the time my largest comic purchase to date.

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