With people stuck at home the past year and half because of the pandemic, collecting toys, trading cards, and merchandise related to movie/tv franchises and fandoms has become a big hit.
While most items can now be easily sourced and bought online, sometimes people just want to head some place new for a change of scenery and browse in a physical store, without having to wander around aimlessly for hours.
For pop culture geeks and hobbyists looking for a new place to visit, Greenhills Mall in San Juan will definitely be worth your while.
A new shop on the second floor of the Promenade wing called UNBOX by Pop & Shop and Project 7 to 1 offers an amazing one-stop-shop for cards, toys, watches, sneakers, and other collectible items all meticulously arranged for your shopping pleasure.
The 478-sqm space looks and feels more like a toy museum for exclusive collections rather than a regular retail store. It’s the ultimate dreamland for avid collectors and online businesses who want to be part of a cool space.
Unbox Greenhills is the brainchild of Carlo Ople, the founder and editor-in-chief of one of the country’s top technology and gadget websites, Unbox.ph, along with Felix Acuna, Mike Gomez, and Atty. Rob Ty, all avid collectors and entrepreneurs coming from different backgrounds.
The shop officially opened its doors just last June 19, 2021, offering a brand-new go-to spot for hobbyists to buy, sell and trade prized items.
The entrance to Unbox is guarded by life-sized statues of Thor and Superman, with a tarp explaining how the unique space works.
The main space is devoted to the Seller’s Center, which contains over 170 glass cases for rent, where sellers can showcase and sell collectible items.
Cabinets composed of four layers of locked display cases are just filled to the brim with all manner of geeky goodness. Alongside cute collectible stickers, customized plates, and t-shirts, you can find limited edition sneakers, elusive Funko Pop figures, retro action figures, basketball cards, Pokèmon cards, signed memorabilia, premium watches, basketballs, and loads more. There are even Japan-exclusive food items and some plush cat condos.
Unbox GH rents out cabinets to different merchants for P3,500 a month, and sellers can fill up their rented cabinets with a display area of their own goods.
If anything catches your eye, you can just take a photo of the box number and ask assistance from the store’s staff, pay for items at the cashier, and you’re good to go.
Since UNBOX takes care of the operations and marketing, individual merchants don’t have to rent a large space for a physical store or pay for employees to watch over a store everyday. Meanwhile, customers have the benefit of easy browsing of a wide range of items all in one area or find out where to order specific items online.
Alongside highly coveted items that celebrate international pop culture, there are a few Philippine-made items of geek interest as well.
One cabinet displayed Lagim, a collectible card game based on Filipino folklore and myths, with creatures like the Kapre, Nuno sa Punso and more.
Another case contained rare collector’s banknotes and commemorative coins, with a limited edition 5,000-peso Lapu-Lapu bill going for a cool P35,000.
There's also a VIP row of celebrity-owned items and merchandise up for grabs from Pinoy tech celebrities and digital influencers.
The Celebrity Corner currently displays merch from Carlo Ople, Madd Creatives by Jed Madela, Chinkee Tan, Wetworks, Bea Benedicto and Cosplay Queen and gamer Alodia Gosiengfiao, including her gaming-inspired makeup line and cyberpunk glasses.
To the back of the space, several Mars Ravelo Pinoy superhero action figures, like Darna, Lastikman, Captain Barbel and Valentina, from the personal collection of Jed Madela are also on display next to a Grail Wall, which serves as a display area for the best and rarest items.
There are special areas for Project 7 to 1 merch, which features a Steal Cabinet where you can cop some nifty deals.
You can also find a wider range of Funko Pop toys and shirts from Pop n’ Shop including limited edition Funko Vinyl Soda Cans designed from DC classics and Masters of the Universe, with figures having a one in six chase variant. Feeling lucky? There are some Mystery Boxes up for grabs too, filled with random merch.
UNBOX Greenhills also contains the first digital live selling hall in the country, a dedicated space that renters can use for online selling, complete with handy equipment you'll need to show off your merch in the best possible light.
For those who get the munchies while browsing, Unbox also has its own Food & Cafe Corner, with a Bean Brewers coffee kiosk in the store serving coffee and snacks. A balcony area serves as an al fresco dining area.
Because of the rotating system for the display cases, Unbox Greenhills promises a different experience every time you visit. For collectors, part of the thrill is the hunt, so you never know what you’ll stumble upon when you visit. At a time when toy conventions and large geek-themed gatherings are still not allowed, Unbox offers a dose of nostalgia and good vibes, whatever your hobby may be.
If you’re looking to make some money off your collections, you can be part of the Unbox GH Family yourself. To rent a cabinet, sign up here. Meanwhile, those interested in renting Food Carts can contact Mike Gomez at 0977-115-9082.
UNBOX Greenhills is located on the second floor of the Promenade in Greenhills Mall, San Juan, Metro Manila.
(All images by Kara Santos)