Recently opened SOJI Gifts and Collectibles is a Mount Pleasant destination for a variety of geek chic goods, including designer toys, collectibles, unique gifts, apparel and more.
But unlike the cluttered comic book stores that traditionally come to mind, the just-off Main Street shop has plenty of breathing space—in between exquisitely designed samurai Storm Trooper figurines and Pusheen The Cat plush toys.
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What’s on the shelves is just as important as what’s been passed over, in a tightly curated collection that emphasizes a more inclusive approach to geek culture and collectibles.
Ariel Chao, animator turned small business owner, has taken a gamble on the belief that amidst our Amazon Prime shipments and increasing ecommerce options, there’s still a need for niche retail spaces like SOJI.
Chao points out that Mount Pleasant is full of film, TV and animation studios, which is one of the key reasons she decided to open shop on Main and Broadway.
Certainly, that block of Mount Pleasant is thriving with local and independent retailers. Birds on a Wire and Much & Little are longstanding stores that feature local artists and makers, and socially-conscious “outdoor essentials” brand Sitka recently opened up a pop-up on the corner.
And while all of SOJI’s wares are available online and ship across the country, it’s clear that Chao loves creating community locally.
It’s evident in the store’s unique window art display, which is designed by a different artist every month (December’s look is a delightful Neverending Story and Gremlins mashup, by local mural artist Jenn Brisson). The back room turns into an event space, complete with stage and projector.
There are also specially fitted women’s tank tops—which were painstakingly in shipped from the States, because Chao didn’t like the look of what she could source within Canada. For clothing in particular, the selection is not just about celebrating fandom, but also about the subtlety of the overall design.
From decorative vintage plates to Poké Ball wallets, there are surprises around every corner of the compact storefront.
Here are some more photos inside SOJI Gifts and Collectibles: