This article is long overdue, and for that I apologize — but I had the pleasure of being able to attend and experience the Funko HQ Grand Opening and I wanted to share my experience.
A friend and I made the trek to from Portland, OR to Everett, WA for the big event of Funko’s first retail location. We drove up the night before and decided the first order of business was to check out the site and to see what the line situation was like. Funko had previous stated on their blog that they would not allow lining up beforehand — the line that had formed was unofficial and not sanctioned or organized by Funko.
But as any convention goer, exclusive hunter, or event attendee knows, keeping a line from forming would have been next to impossible. The line was a Hall H type best-case-scenario of friendly, dedicated fans who were in good spirits and very excited about what was to come. The line was good sized, but as of approximately 11PM the night before, it was very manageable. We decided to retire for the evening at our accommodations, take a glorified nap, and come back bright and early the next morning for the festivities.
During the course of the night the surrounding streets were blocked off, and things were being prepared for the big event. Many portable toilets had been delivered and setup, and some temporarily placed large Funko statues were placed for photo ops, giving the area the feeling of the beginnings of a block party.
At 6AM the Starbucks around the corner opened up to caffeinate the dedicated masses. The staff was dressed up ranging from superhero t-shirts all the way to a full costumed Squirrel Girl, and they had also created a signature drink for the occasion. This was our first clue that Everett was really getting into the spirit of welcoming their newest neighbors to the downtown area.
Ticket distribution began at roughly 7AM as planned and went smoothly and uneventfully until tickets ran out. Though I am not sure of the specifics, a small amount of passes were given out to Funko Forum members including some Funatics coming from out of state and out of country so as to secure a spot for the event. From there, tickets were distributed to people to enter the store as a group and allow for an approximate one hour block of time to shop, look, photograph, and give the staff time to reset the inventory before the next group arrived. Based on conversations with people in line, I believe anyone who had gotten in line by about 5AM received a ticket, while those who arrived later did not.
Going along with Funko’s love of the Willy Wonka theme and license, here is a closer look at a ticket:
After tickets were all distributed, there was some time to kill, so we opted to eat, explore, and watch the scene unfold. After eating and checking out a local comic shop we watched the setting up of the tents for the artists and autographs, the stage for the opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting, and the arrival of the food trucks. We also took note of additional large scale statues including this Spider-Man one on the skybridge connecting the Funko building to the parking garage. There was also some impressive cosplay.
The ribbon cutting took place on stage with a ceremony starting at approximately 9:30AM. It started with an introduction by Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who was excited about the infusion of new business in Everett. Next, Funko CEO Brian Mariotti came on stage on got the crowd fired up with news of offering art classes to kids taught by Funko artists. They would take place on-site in a separate room in the store called Funko Univerity. The charitable news continued with Mariotti presenting a $50,000 donation to Cocoon House, a nonprofit that serves homeless youth of the area. He was then joined on stage by surprise guest Kevin Smith as well as his costars from AMC’s Comic Book Men. It was revealed that in addition to the previous announced exclusives there would be Kevin Smith Comic Book Men Pop! limited to 500 pieces as well as four Pop!s created for his costars, limited to 120 pieces.
Shortly after the first group was let in for the 10AM shopping slot. I got in line and waited for my turn at 11AM.
When I was let into the store I was overwhelmed by how intricate, beautiful and thoroughly planned out the aesthetic of the store was. It almost seems wrong to call it a store, as it was more of an experience. The feel of the place is like Walt Disney and Willy Wonka had a baby. The store even has a faux factory setup with conveyor belts as well as things in motion up above. There is also the promise of a Build Your Own Pop section to come.
The store was seperated into several sections. There is a main common area with general Funko, Funko Freddy and Funko HQ merchandise as well as the cash registers. The other main sections include:
The Animation Area with a fun Japanese vibe including Godzilla and the skyline. This area also houses the Funko University teaching area.
Gotham / DC Area
Star Wars Area
Harry Potter Area
Attending the Funko HQ Grand Opening was an amazing once in a lifetime experience. Luckily, the store is there for your viewing and shopping pleasure six days a week. If you are a Funko fan or curious and will be in the Seattle area, it is definitely worth checking out. At the very least you will get a bit of a fix until your next big convention.