As mentioned in the first half of this write up I attended Funko Fundays this Summer at San Diego Comic Con. As incredible and overwhelming and exhausting and uplifting as Fundays is however, Funko had one more event up its sleeve for fans this summer: the official grand opening of their corporate headquarters and first self run retail space in Funko’s hometown of Everett, Washington. The event took place on Saturday, August 19th and was an event not soon to be forgotten by those fortunate enough to attend.
Due to a variety of travel delays, I did not arrive in Everett until just after 2am on the 19th. The doors would open to the public for the first time a mere 8 hours later, preceded by an opening ceremony that would take place right in front of the building. Although I was fortunate enough to be among the group that had pre-access to tickets, this was not the case for everyone. As a result, a line began forming as early as Friday morning for fans hoping to gain entry. There were a very limited number of tickets, each with 1 hour time slots from 10am to 7pm. Each consisted of a couple hundred people tops and they ran out of tickets well before they ran out of people wanting them.
Not wanting to miss a minute of the action, a friend and I proceeded immediately to the HQ building in Everett as soon as we were able. Even at night, the building is impressive. They have giant statues around the outside, on a ledge, depicting various figures Funko makes, as well as a massive Funko sign on the corner of the building. Each window was filled with displays of various items sold by Funko, some of which have not even been announced yet, let alone released. Fans could also catch glimpses of the inside of the store itself. Although it was the middle of the night, the streets were already closed off for the street fair Funko would be having that day. As various decorations and items related to the fair were brought in, fans could feel the excitement bubbling in the gathered crowd. At 7 am, those of us who were given the pre-access tickets were able to start lining up by the front door of the retail store itself.
The next couple of hours felt like a blur. I’m not sure if it was more excitement or sleep deprivation, but it was likely a combination of both. By 9 am, a massive crowd had formed in the street outside of the store. A stage and a number of chairs were set up for the opening ceremony. Then, around 9:30, Brian Mariotti took the stage. He talked about the company, about its success, about their love of Everett and their desire to make a positive impact on the community. He also talked about how much the fans mean to him personally, as well as Funko as a company. The Mayor of Everett spoke next and was followed by none other than Kevin Smith himself. That’s right, Kevin Smith was at both Fundays and the store opening. I think it’s safe to say that he is a fan! Then the three of them cut a ribbon and it was time.
I don’t know if it’s possible to fully describe how incredible the experience was. Not only was I there, but I was at the very front of the line with a group of incredible friends like fellow FoCC members NCDS and Rando. We were among the very first in the door, and what we encountered blew my mind.
Naturally, the most important reason people went to this event was to make sure that they were able to procure the special limited edition items Funko had created just for the opening weekend event. But after I had done this, I stopped to take a moment and look around, and that was when it really hit me. This place was unlike anywhere I’d even been before. The store itself is divided into sections dedicated to Harry Potter, Disney, Marvel, DC, anime/film, Star Wars, and original Funko characters. But it wasn’t just dedicated to these characters, it brought them to life. Harry Potter world is designed to look like Diagon Alley. DC looks like Arkham Asylum and the Bat Cave from the 1966 Batman live action show. Marvel looks like Brooklyn, Star Wars looks like Hoth, and Disney looks like Fantasyland. Each part is populated not just with product but replicas of relevant characters from each franchise.
It was utterly brilliant and amazing and overwhelming. I thought for sure I was going to cry at more than one point. And best of all, I looked around and saw the faces of friends and other people seeing this one of a kind place for the first time and I could see that same awe and joy reflected. It truly did feel as if somehow Funko was able to bottle magic and fun and joy and somehow turn that into a place where people could see and touch and visit.
By the time we left the store it was only 11 am (each ticket only allowed entry for one hour), but I felt a deep sense of both exhaustion and contentment. And that was just the beginning of a day long street fair! The fair itself had food trucks, a beer garden, live music, giveaways and prizes, and most impressively, tents where you could have a custom picture hand drawn for you by one of the many talented artists and designers who work for Funko. Although my primary goal had been visiting the store and that had been accomplished already, a day of fun lay ahead of us. As exhausted and spent as we felt, we could not wait to take part.
I’m willing to bet that most people are not familiar with the city of Everett Washington. About 45 minutes north of Seattle, it is best known for housing offices belonging to the major aircraft manufacturer Boeing. But that is about to change. This store truly is magical and deeply special. It’s a place more than worth visiting and a place to which you’ll want to return. If Funko hadn’t already put Everett on the map, surely this store will. It is a destination: one that I urge all of you with an interest to visit someday. I’m convinced you’ll find it very much worthwhile.
Here are some more photos: