“Colorful!”… “Fun!”… “Smells Like Fruit Loops!”
Any of these words come to mind when we picture Retro Emporium, a delightful oasis of Pop Culture artifacts on Meeker Street, right in historic downtown Kent.
Owner Anne has created a place where collectibles from the 80’s and 90’s are cherished and celebrated, while often found liberated from their boxes. “Toys are meant to be played with!” shares the enthusiastic redhead, “that was kind of my niche when I was doing toy shows – free your character.”
What began as a trading card business selling on eBay, Etsy and at various conventions and shows, grew to encompass action figures, stuffies, games, toys, comic books and all manner of collectible merchandise featuring memorable characters and phenomema of that bygone time. Pretty soon, it was time to create a permanent brick and mortar repository for all this vintage fabulousness.
Anne opened Retro Emporium on January 5, 2019 and was pretty instantly successful. Its no surprise, given that she had an extensive career in retail and merchandising, prior to venturing into the world of entrepreneurship. In fact, her creativity recently landed her a first place win in the Kent Downtown Partnership window display contest (see our previous coverage and photos here). The shop quickly developed repeat business and a successful retail operation which allowed her to de-emphasize her online sales. When COVID-19 forced physical locations to close, Anne was able to pivot back to her online business model in a fairly seamless way – check out her Etsy shop here: http://retroemporiumkent.etsy.com, and be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram where she posts incredible “blast from the past” finds frequently. You never know what might turn up and instantly transport you back to a memorable moment you hadn’t thought of in years.
Now that we are in Phase Two of business resumption, you are able to enjoy the full multi-sensory experience that Anne has created in person (yes, it really does smell like Fruit Loops!). On a recent trip we chuckled over Spice Girls dolls, marveled at vintage electronics, and were basically overwhelmed with the breadth, condition and presentation of incredible finds. All the super popular trends and shows of that era are represented, like Star Wars, Pokemon, Mario, Star Trek: The Next Generation, My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…the list goes on and on and on. Sure, you would expect to find these very popular francises, but what is also striking are the obscure oddities. Where else would you find Howard the Duck trading cards? Words fail me!
Retro Emporium is a fun concept that at first glance would seem to only appeal to a rather slender slice of the population, however, assuming that would make you wrong! According to Anne, the shop has a wide customer base of many ages. She particularly enjoys when older customers come in and say “oh my kids loved those…that brings back memories.” Being able to bring a little joy and maybe some play to her customer’s life is highly satisfying. And, as Anne says, ”Play is important.”
You can come enjoy a “play-full” visit Monday-Saturday from 12-6 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m.
328 W. Meeker Street