Super7 is a locally run company holding it down in SF for over fifteen years, is widely visible on the nerd culture radar and is a household name when it comes to vinyl toy collectors. This Friday, March 4th they are celebrating the grand opening of their second SF store location at 3253 16th St (between Guerrero/Dolores).
The retail space has been outfitted with new fixtures, S7 trademarked Star Wars and Masters of the Universe wallpaper, and some wow-worthy retro sci-fi posters. Underground art culture fans might also recognize this space, as this was also the old home to cool zine haven, Needles and Pens. (And don’t you worry, they are still up the street on Valencia!)
Fast-forwarding from 2001, when they got their start as Super7 the magazine, they have since opened a SF Japantown location in 2003, moved to the Haight St location in 2010, opened a second store in San Diego in 2015, and is now opening an additional location in the Mission. In addition, the products they’ve made can be found from here to Japan, and all the major comic conventions in between.
First the basics, how did Super7 get started as a company?
Super7 started out as a fanzine created by Super7 founder Brian Flynn back in 2001, focused on his obsessive-compulsive collecting of obscure Japanese monster and robot toys. The magazine caught on and grew until ultimately Super7 opened our first retail store in San Francisco’s Japantown. The first store mainly sold toys, t-shirts, art books, and held art shows.
Over the next few years, the shop grew and expanded into a larger space next door, and we began to shift toward making the items that we carried in the store. Before long we had transitioned into making all of our own apparel, collector toys, action figures, glassware, wallpaper…pretty much anything we wanted to have ourselves that didn’t yet exist. We adopted our manifesto when we moved the store to Upper Haight…
We grew up with giant monsters, comic books, punk, science fiction, skateboarding, robots and rebellion. No one made what we wanted. So we made it ourselves.
I know that you had recently opened another store in San Diego, and that you are regular participants at Comic Con, are there other conventions, events, or location where fans might be able to find you?
We have been a fixture at San Diego Comic Con for a decade now, and it’s a really fun show for us. It’s a really huge gathering of our core audience, and a great place for us to connect with them. We always try to have something really special and unexpected up our sleeve to reveal at SDCC! We also go to New York Comic Con, which is another really big convention, and while we wish it was still here in San Francisco, we go to WonderCon in Los Angeles as well.
With S7 having the option to open another store in a number of other locations, how was San Francisco’s Mission District chosen as the newest location?
While we love Upper Haight as much as anyone, it’s generally not an area frequented by locals. Our office is in the Mission, we love hanging out here, and I’ve lived in the mission for a number of years. We’ve always wanted to open a shop in this area that feels a bit closer to home–pretty much the right opportunity presented itself, and we were excited to jump on it.
How will this store differ from the Haight Street location?
We will still carry all of the same products that we produce for Haight Street. Being in the Mission though will allow us to make some products that are a bit more tailored to locals than we would at Haight Street, which has a lot more out-of-town customers and tourists.
To many, the idea of working for a company like Super7, or making a living in a creative field, might sound like a far-off dream…any advice for aspiring artists/designers?
Stick to your day job, I’ve got enough competition as it is! Just kidding. Really though, it is a dream come true to get to do the work that I do. While I get to design toys and create illustrations for t-shirts and what not, it’s not always glamorous.
It takes a lot of work to get anywhere in a creative field. The best advice I can give is to follow your passion toward what you want to do, work hard, stay humble, and when it’s hard and discouraging and you want to give up, don’t.
You’ve been with S7 for close to ten years, were there particular releases or series that were most near and dear to you?
It’s been quite a time here! I’ve been really lucky to work on some amazing projects—Star Wars t-shirts, Alien action figures, throwback fast-food glasses, even making real toys out of some of my own original characters. I really enjoyed making a package for a fake breakfast cereal themed around a dead sci-fi astronaut floating in space for our fan club. But the coolest moment was getting to re-imagine my childhood hero, Skeletor.
Rumor has it that, on top of having Lagunitas sponsoring the party and a coinciding toy release, there was some talk about there also being donuts…inquiring minds want to know, will there be donuts?!
There will be donuts!
The Grand Opening party will also serve as the release of the Yeti Wing Kong vinyl figure!…That’s this dude. ^
+++ Super7, 3253 16th St, 6pm to 10pm. This party is all-ages and open to the public.