A new store specializing in plush squishy toys and all manner of adorable Japanese-pop culture collectibles is opening at the increasingly buzzy Music City Mall in Lewisville.
Called Kawaii Otaku Plus, it's an independently owned shop, set to open on August 9, with a big collection of "squishies," the soft pillow-like stuffed toys which have been dubbed "the product you never knew you needed."
Kawaii is from Adidoreydi "Adi" Figueroa, a former vet tech with an entrepreneurial streak, and avid fan of Japanese pop culture.
She began by selling the card games, plush toys, manga, and collectible anime figures she loves at conventions and special markets. The store represents her next step — a place where like-minded fans can find items at a reasonable and predictable price, along with Figueroa's knowledgeable service.
"A few years ago, I went to a convention looking for a special figure," she says. "But due to the fact that I'm a woman and younger, I felt like I was getting brushed aside by vendors. I became determined to open a no-judgment kind of store that would take the customer seriously, regardless of who they are."
I want to be there for everyone who's looking for this kind of stuff," she says. "There are people trying to sell fake things, and we try to educate public what to look for and how to go about avoiding being taken advantage of."
Located at 2401 S. Stemmons Fwy., her store will sell a wide range of merchandise, from apparel to stickers to Pikachu keychains to posters to toys, including action figures, statues, and collectibles from comics and anime books.
Plush toys have become a big trend, especially during the pandemic, with people sending them to each other as a gesture of comfort. The pacer in the field is Squishmallows, a company founded in 2017 that first introduced ultra-squeezable pastel-tinted plush figures which have grown into an international phenomenon.
Kawaii carries Squishmallow, along with Squishable, Bellzi, Amuse, and Pokemon Center.
"Plushes are for everyone, for all ages," Figueroa says. "At the conventions I go to, you see people of all types — I've seen people who've competed in body building competitions buy them. There are small companies like Squishable and Warmies making them. With everything going on in the world, having them as a hobby gives some people a more safe feeling."
As for the name, she says that "Kawaii" translates into "cute," and Otaku means a nerd or a geek.
"So we're 'cute nerd and more'," she says.