By Emily Glory Peters
Pop culture is not just a state of mind, it’s a place in Old Town Monrovia. Here, those well-versed in subreddits and Urban Dictionary descriptions can find merchandise that reflects where one falls as a stan (not sure what a “stan” is? Ask at the counter!).
Coming through the doors of Puff Monkey Pop Culture Shop is like walking into a lucid dream of everything that blazed through your fandom’s Twitter feed last week. The shop is stuffed to the gills with an array of cute, kitsch and dark (Betty Boop, Avengers and Nightmare Before Christmas merch all make appearances here) offerings from the world of entertainment.
On your left, you’ll find a wall populated with dozens of Funko Pop characters (vinyl figurines depicting everyone from “Stranger Things”’ Eleven to the cast of “The Office”). To your right: apparel, backpacks, fanny packs, pins, buttons and collectibles galore—plus thousands of additional items available at Puff Monkey’s online shop. It’s official: here, you’re pop-cultural.
“I knew I wanted to work at Puff Monkey the moment I walked into the store. The items are unique and nostalgic—everywhere I looked brought back memories of my childhood,” says Juana Espinoza, online sales manager at Puff Monkey. “I love anime and movies, which is why it made it easier for me to fit in with the store.”
Clearly, Puff Monkey doesn’t limit itself to strictly North American pop culture items—Japan and Korea both hold sway here.
“We’re the only store in the area that carries funky and fun brands such as Tokidoki. People come from all over to see the latest Tokidoki items that feature a Japanese-inspired style,” says Espinoza, noting that Puff Monkey makes a point to listen and grow with their customers’ interests. “We do our best to ensure that we have unique items that both children and adults can enjoy.”
As a brick-and-mortar, boutiques like Puff Monkey are rare—as Espinoza, along with owner Judy and manager Carina, full know. Foot traffic is tough, so the online store allows them to appeal to even more shoppers. Still, Espinoza avers the physical shop adds a necessary vibrancy to the block.
“Small businesses bring character to cities. If it wasn’t for shops like ours, Old Town Monrovia would be only restaurants and bars,” Espinoza says, adding that these shops balance out the city’s nightlife. “We offer locals and visitors to the area a place to step in and walk around after brunch or dinner, and we get to speak with great people both in and outside the community.”
So, if you’re looking for a special gift or treat for yourself, drop by Puff Monkey Pop Cultural Shop. Chances are you’ll find something that reflects the times—and even those gone by.
Puff Monkey Pop Culture Shop is located at 427 S. Myrtle Avenue in Old Town Monrovia. To learn more about their products, contact the Puff Monkey team at www.puffmonkey.com | 626.888.3779 and follow along on Facebook @puffmonkey.shop and Instagram @puffmonkeyshop.