For all of you fellow nerds out there who wanted a place where you could get comics, video games, music, vinyl figures, and art all in the same place, your mecca haqs come. Pandaman Toys, which opened earlier this year by The Park Bench, offers a great place to relax and embrace your inner nerd. To top it all off they serve good coffee! We managed to talk with Beth Small, one of the stores founders, and learn what the store is all about
So how was Pandaman created?
Originally, I was going to open up a vinyl figure store in Philadelphia; I was planning on moving there and starting a store with my friend but things fell thorough. I thought if I were still going to do this it would have to be in Rochester, I grew up here and had the connections, and the security blanket here.
I was looking at a few spaces; there are already other vinyl stores in Rochester. We knew the owners of several stores so we didn’t want to become competition but we still wanted to incorporate vinyl figures. We wanted to bring the best qualities of several atmospheres in a place where there was a market. Monroe Ave doesn’t have many coffee shops so we weren’t stepping on any toes moving here
Our art gallery could be considered pretty low brow. We are trying to promote street art and graffiti, there are not of a lot of places that do that here. Video games were also a big factor in the atmosphere of what our store is. We are growing and evolving everyday so the “theme” of our store is never tied down. We just want people to come here, feel comfortable, and have a good time.
How do you find your artist to hold the different galleries?
We actually didn’t know any of the artists starting off. We found people through twitter and Facebook, just putting the word out there that we wanted to promote local art. We plan on switching the gallery out every three months. We also have outside artist come in for galleries; we will soon have Justin Reed’s work here for our first solo show.
So do you have other plans in the works for the store?
We eventually will be doing open mic night, live bands, poetry readings, small theater productions, stuff like that but we are waiting for the city of Rochester to clear us for that. However DJing is ok, so we have had a few DJ’s here since we opened.
We also have movie nights, board game tournaments, and video game competitions. There is also a Dungeon and Dragons group that comes in every week to play, we are happy to make our space available to them.