Immersive pop-up store ‘Stranger Things’ brings a Demogorgon to Chicago and Dallas
‘Stranger Things’ pop-up store is coming to Chicago and Dallas this weekend just in time for fans to prepare for Netflix’s season 4 release
The show is set in the fictional Hawkins, Indiana, but the Hawkins pop-up fits perfectly inside the Oakbrook Mall, located in Chicago’s western suburb of Oak Brook. It’s a unique and official Netflix retail experience for the super fan that’s packed with exclusive merchandise, most of which is only available in stores and not online.
Upon entering the space – which fans can register for free, timed tickets for – you’re greeted with the signature Stranger Things banner and instantly know you’re being welcomed into an immersive Hawkins experience with around five distinctly different backgrounds Instagrammable, including a stop at Joyce’s a salon, work bikes you can ride, a free full courthouse arcade, Starcourt Mall, Hawkins National Laboratory, Snowball and a photo op with a demogorgon if you dare.
The experience takes you on a journey through the main themes and scenes of the show, as well as delivering Easter eggs to those who choose to take a closer look at the clothing on offer and the toys lining the walls.
“The Stranger Things store will send customers right into the heart of Hawkins, in a truly immersive retail experience totally fueled by ’80s vibes,” said Greg Lombardo, Head of Experiences at Netflix.
Let’s take a detailed tour.
The first thing that strikes is the music. John Cougar Mellencamp. Bang. Teena Mary. People of a certain age will find themselves humming as soon as they arrive. People under a certain age will also find themselves humming along to the music they’ve heard on the show before.
You walk in and round the corner into Joyce’s living room, with the 80s sofa, the Dungeons and Dragons game open on the wooden coffee table and a few boxes of Russian Cheerios lining the walls, along with a black and white television old school, new (for sale) vinyl albums of the Stranger Things soundtrack and an assortment of things that will bring any 70s or 80s kid back to nostalgic childhood memories.
Yes, you can sit on the sofa, right under the alphabet lights, and take a picture.
After wandering around the lounge, the Palace Arcade is my next stop. There I walk into a blacklight party room with lots of merch (hello desktop Pacman!) and the holy grail of 80s stuff: authentic, straight Gala arcade games
I check: Mad Max hasn’t played yet, so the first places are still available.
After the arcade, you can visit the Hawkins National Laboratory, where you can press buttons, take even more photos, and browse a wall of demogorgon t-shirts and toys, including a gorgon plushie. Some more expensive things are also there, collectible sculptures of key moments from the movie with the price starting at $200.
After going through the lab, the demogorgon spawns out of a wall. Some people will stick around and take a picture, but others might quickly sneak through the halls of Hawkins High, look at a few lockers, see a few boxes of Eggos lying around, and have the option of buying some Hawkins gym gear before heading off. head towards the snow. Ball, a scene-stealer who was the culmination – and end – of season two of the series.
Naturally, the Snow Ball path leads to Starcourt Mall, Scoops Ahoy and an assortment of neon items – perfectly on-trend with 80s gear. And there’s another photo op with bikes and a canvas doomed background so you can try out your “Stranger Things” cosplay dreams or maybe even imagine yourself in “ET: The Extraterrestrial.”
Every detail was considered, from the Big League chewing gum and Ring Pops for sale at the counter, to the rats in the locker, to the Thinking Cap and sights for sale at Starcourt Mall and the Arcade. If you wanted to, you could suspend your belief for a moment and really think it was 1984.
A few Easter Eggs: The Hellfire Club gear was front and center, and as they feature prominently in the season premiere, a Netflix rep confirms that the band members have a starring role. in season four. Additionally, a collaboration between Netflix and iam8bit has resulted in Ecuadorian artist Chogrin creating an exhibited vinyl sculptural piece named “Elegorgon. eatin’, half teeth?”
Fun fact: many of Joyce’s living room items are super glued to their surfaces to prevent sticky fingers from taking some of the Upside Down with them.
Don’t miss this part: A customizable clothing station that lets you place your photo next to key characters and print a t-shirt. Allow extra time for this customization option.
This isn’t the first Stranger Things store. The concept first came to New York and Los Angeles in 2021, where lines enveloped the block as people waited to enter. The story is produced by Netflix and managed by Three Ten Merchandise with in-store design by Black Sky Creative. Licensing deals abound, including Bandai-built Stranger Things Hawkins action figures and recreations of key 80s board games. Tickets are limited, but free at Strangerthings-Store.com
For Chicagoans who read, the Stranger Things pop-up store is in front of Starbucks
Stranger Things returns to Netflix on May 27, just in time for Emmy review. The first half of the season will be released on May 27 and the second on July 1.