"THERE'S ALWAYS THAT 'YOU'RE A NERD THING', BUT THAT'S CHANGING."
KELOWNA – A family from Lake Country has opened a store in Orchard Park Mall which has no competition anywhere in the Okanagan.
The product they sell may be unfamiliar to most people, but it’s a marketgaining in popularity around the world.
Anime, the broad term used to refer to Japanese animated cartoons, is a diverse and unique art form. Until last week fans have had to get their fix either online or travel to bigger cities like Vancouver or Edmonton.
Chibi’s Anime Goods and Collectibles opened to the public Thursday, May 14, in Orchard Park Mall. It is owned by a mother and daughter team but the store is really a family affair.
Tanya Krogfoss, 49, and her daughter Nikki, 26, are the two owners, but sisters Shanna, 24, and Tayla, 19, are also involved. Dad Perry, 51, also played a big role in getting the store up and running, although he admits the genre of art is still quite foreign to him.
“Up until recently I thought anime was a country,” he says. "It’s not something I’m a subject matter expert on but its pretty cool and as a dad and a husband I’ll move heaven and earth to help them."
The store was launched at the second annual Kelowna Fan Xpo, a comic-con style event which shows the Okanagan is warming up to the art characterized by large eyes, dazzling colours and remarkable attention to detail.
“It’s just so expressive and beautiful,” says Nikki, an artist herself who designed the logo that hangs above the entrance. “There are so many different styles and there is so much detail.”
(ADAM PROSKIW / iNFOnews.ca)
Tanya says although she sees the art form as beautiful, she admits to being a little intimidated by the amount of knowledge her customers have and the questions they inevitably ask.
There are hundreds of different product lines and characters, each with difficult-to-remember names across diverse genres like action, adventure, comedy, drama, horror, mystery, romance and many more. They are often targeted towards different demographics and age groups, something Tanya and Perry found initially surprising.
“Our customers are actually everybody,” Tanya says. “Our target when we were doing our business layout was between 12 to 26 but little kids love it and even older people who grew up with Sailor Moon are coming in because it takes them back to their childhood. There’s no face to it.”
The Krogfoss’ have opted for a wide variety of items over a large quantity of specific items. That way, they say, they will appeal to as many collectors and fans as possible.
One customer, Nick Fast, from Kelowna says he’s been waiting for a store like Chibi’s to come to the valley for a long time.
“It’s really the only store in the area that has this kind of stuff,” he says. “It’s about time.”
The idea certainly seems to be catching on quick. On opening day they had a line waiting for the door to open and Tanya says at one time they had 27 people in the store.
“When we were first thinking about opening we wondered if there would be enough interest,” Nikki says. “But most are really excited. The first couple days people were texting each other and telling them to get down here and that it’s finally open. One customer even broke into tears.”
So far they’ve had customers come from all over the province, including Penticton, Vernon, Lumby, Kamloops and even Vancouver Island.
“It used to be more of an underground thing,” Nikki says. “But it’s a lot more acceptable now to be interested in anime. There’s always that ‘you’re a nerd’ thing, but that’s changing. No one will judge you here because we’re all similar-minded people. It’s a real community.”
(ADAM PROSKIW / iNFOnews.ca)
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