Professor Gralin Hughes Opens ‘Multiverse’ in Chestnut Hill

By Ryan Hiemenz | November 28, 2023
The storefront of Multiverse on Germantown Ave.

On October 13, Adjunct Professor of Media and Communications, Gralin Hughes Jr. and his wife, Sara Zia Ebrahimi Hughes, opened Multiverse, a store selling all kinds of “curated nerd stuff,” in Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood. The store’s mission is to build a community of respect for one another through the shared celebration of all levels and types of fandom. 

Hughes teaches video production courses through Arcadia’s Department of Media and Communication, creatively inspiring his students to include pieces of themselves and their interests in their respective projects. His individual work examines the intersections of sound and visuals, using technology to elevate audio/visual art. 

Multiverse offers a selection of books, comics, toys, collectibles, games, and apparel from all types of speculative fiction, ranging from Marvel and DC titles to fantasy and horror. In an age of online stores, Multiverse does not list its catalog on the website. Instead, the store conducts business physically in the store as a way to build a community of customers, fans, writers, artists, and more within the walls of the Hughes’ store.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer Hughes explains the difficulty of finding community in these spaces. “I always wanted people to teach it and explain it to me, make me feel welcome … It was like if you didn’t know about this thing, then you don’t really belong here. It was tough.” 

Both Gralin and Sara attribute their sense of belonging to something bigger to their individual experiences with speculative fiction. However, they also recognize that growing up as people of color in the 1980s and 90s, it was difficult to find a welcoming community. Due to this, creating a welcoming environment for all within the realm of speculative fiction is a major emphasis of the store and it has shaped the plans for Multiverse from its very inception. 

Aside from their collection of items for fans to buy, Multiverse has also hosted events for fans in their community to come by the store and share in the fun experiences they’ve planned. For example, on October 28, Multiverse held a meet and greet event for popular actor, cosplayer, and pro-wrestler, Eric “The Smoke” Moran.
Multiverse is located at 8026 Germantown Avenue. You can read book reviews and learn more about upcoming events on the Multiverse website or by following @multiverse_philly on Instagram.