As I look at my Christmas gifts, and my recent birthday gifts before that, I am struck, but not terribly surprised by how much relates to the variety of fandoms and pop culture things I am involved in. Many of these things have stayed with me since my teen years, to the point that I no longer participate, but they still hold an important place in my heart. The one example that comes to mind was my getting a new messenger bag: ThinkGeek’s Bag of Holding. It’s so glorious that I’ll be writing a separate review of it. My son was a little annoyed that I would be getting it – it was a little expensive, but with the thirty percent discount that was offered, it was well worth it. He was still a little annoyed and exclaimed, “You don’t even like Dungeons & Dragons!” I think I may have snorted. I was momentarily speechless.
I don’t like Dungeons & Dragons?! Do you even know me?! I had been playing Dungeons & Dragons since high school. In our school cafeteria, we would use the half-pint milk container as a six-sided die. Every weekend in college, we’d get together in the blue room to play. Dave, our DM (dungeon master) would not let us have any alcohol. We got stupid. We were probably the only group on a Saturday night not drunk. We would play all weekend, talking time only to sleep before the next night’s game.
I met my college roommate in a study hall through a conversation about character sheets.
My oldest son used my original books when he and his friends played Dungeons & Dragons.
Not a fan?! Harumph!
Glancing at The Walking Dead trivia box, the Hufflepuff necklace, the Supernatural zipper bag, the Star Trek 50th anniversary gold ornament with sound, I saw just how many fandom things there are, and I also realized how difficult it was to get some of them.
It’s hard in the suburbs to find a good fandom/geeky/nerd-approrpiate store to get that merchandise, so here is a list you can look through. Some are storefronts, some are internet based, and some are not what you’d expect.
Target has a new, what I call a, fandom section. It is at the back of the DVD/CD area and has a variety of pop culture choices. At the moment, they include: Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, Marvel Avengers, DC Superheroes (including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and for some unexplainable reason, Harley Quinn with the occasional pop in from The Flash and Green Lantern), Star Wars, Minions, Peanuts. There is a wide selection of Funko Pop Vinyls throughout this space and the toy area also.
A variety of action figures, DVDs at reasonable prices, and I believe The Walking Dead trivia box was procured from here.
Primarily online, but there are some storefronts. I found it a great place to explore. They had a wide range of fandoms, an entire wall of Funko Pop Vinyls and their prices ranged from cheap and reasonable to way out of my league. So something for everyone, including a $300 Captain America shield, a $90 Tribble coat, and a Hufflepuff wristwatch (which is now on my wish list) for $24.95. We were there during the Christmas shopping season and they were having a 30% off sale on all backpacks, tee shirts, and stuffed animals/things or plush if I recall correctly. The help was available, knowledgable, but not overbearing as can happen during a rush season.
4. Hot Topic
Most things are reasonably priced and their fandom items vary by the season. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out in November so there was a lot of Harry Potter stuff. There wasn’t a lot if any of Walking Dead stuff, but they will probably get an influx in February when they return for the mid-season. Supernatural has seen a resurgence in merchandise and they have Stranger Things. There’s unusual Disney items and unique and well priced jewelry.
5. Barnes & Noble
I was astounded at the amount of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise, some I had never seen before. They have a nice selection of games and Funko Pop Vinyls. They also have mini boxes that include a mini-book and item. Weeping Angels and Daleks from Doctor Who, the Enterprise and phaser from Star Trek, The Walking Dead walker, a wand and a time-turner necklace from Harry Potter, the Bat Signal and other non-fandom mini-sets like a Bonsai Tree, snowglobe, and others.
Beginning in July, Hallmark puts out their Christmas ornaments. There are many more for fandoms now than when I was younger. We’ve gotten for Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Batman, Supernatural, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, a Barbie ballerina, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Winnie-the-Pooh, and A Christmas Story. They have whatever is popular or retro including Peanuts, Big Bang Theory, Disney Princesses, whatever the current Disney movie is (this year it’s Moana), Avengers, and Spiderman. it’s definitely worth a look. They really fill up right before Thanksgiving, but once they’re gone, they’re gone. Over are the days when they keep getting replenished.
7. Adagio Teas
If you’re a tea drinker, I would recommend getting on their email list. They offer discounts and the occasional free shipping, which I took advantage of for Cyber Monday. Fandoms that I personally drink include Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Harry Potter, Captain America: Civil War. I would highly encourage The Walking Dead Daryl and the Supernatural Survival. Both are my favorites. (adagio.com)
They can be expensive, but they have a large selection of action figures, t-shirts, and the odd assortment of merchandise that you don’t always see everywhere. They are usually found in malls, and they also have some great sales – like the recent buy one get two free on action figures.
This may surprise you, but the US Post Office comes out with fandom stamps more often than you would think. I have seen and collected:Star Trek, Star Wars, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Sunday Comics, Disney Magic, Disney Romance, Harry Potter, Peanuts Christmas/Holiday stamps, Baseball Sluggers. Check their website for current selections. Different offices do not always carry all of the stamps.
10. The Woodbury Shoppe
They are The Official Walking Dead Store. I ordered from them once for a Walking Dead t-shirt, and they were a pleasure to order from. Very good selection, mostly reasonable price, and professional; very easy to use. They also offer merchandise and items from The Walking Dead Cafe, an extension of the Shoppe, located in Senoia, GA, and Nic & Norman’s, the restaurant owned by Greg Nicotero and Norman Reedus also located in Senoia, GA. (woodburyshoppe.com)
Most of my fandom t-shirts come from this online organization. They promote limited run campaigns. The one I am most likely to order from is Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting . They don’t print the shirts until the orders are complete. The prices are a little higher than I’d want for a t-shirt, but I’m a large size so it’s comparable to a specialty store plus a portion goes to charity. I also have to say that this is the most comfortable shirt I’ve ever worn, even after washing. They hold up pretty well. The oldest shirt I have is a little more than a year old, and it’s in excellent condition.
12. Comic and Gaming Stores
Don’t forget your local comic and gaming stores. Check your yellow pages or google comics and your nearest larger town. You can also call the Comic Shop Locator and input your zip code (1-888-266-4226).