On Saturday my sister and I decided to visit the pop-up Pokemon Centre London store which has opened for a limited time only in Westfields, London as part of the Pokemon Sword and Shield release. We left ridiculously early on the first train of the day – 5.19 :O and joined the queue at 7.30. We got in at 15.45 :O
The Store itself
I’d seen videos on youtube of what it looked like fully stocked, but by the time we’d got in inevitably it wasn’t! However there was still enough left to be a decent selection. There were some displays (movie and starter plushies) opposite the cashiers and then you went under a blue archway and into the main store. The selection was always going to be limited as it is a pop-up store and I don’t feel its fair to compare it to the Sunshine Mall store I visited in Tokyo a few years ago which had a full range and I spent literally hours in! As only a limited number of people were allowed in at once we were able to look round without having to wait for people to move on from displays.
A lot of London Pikachu merchandise was gone but I still managed to grab a t-shirt! They also still had a lot of the backpacks which I was so happy about as it was an item I really wanted! I was also able to get a Glaceon plushie and a movie Psyduck plushie! You were only allowed to buy one item from the London Pikachu range and they also had item limits on the starter lines. They also limited you to a max of 6 items per customer (this is now 5 from today!). There was a long queue again to pay but it moved fairly quickly and for 25p I got the large Pokemon Centre London carrier bag too!
I found the store experience very enjoyable and all that I had hoped it would be. It was a shame not to see the full range but hopefully as its been such a success they will consider making it permanent!
We joined the queue at 7.30 and were already outside Westfields. A really nice couple in front of us warned us of how long we would be queuing for but at that time we were super-excited to even be here so I don’t think it sank in until a few hours later! Of course I’d heard online how long you had to wait but I kind of couldn’t believe it was really possible. But it was.
At first the queue moved pretty quickly and as they were bunching people up we got inside at about 9.30. We still didn’t fully realise how massively long the queue was as we’ve only been to Westfields once and didn’t know just where the Pokemon Centre London was inside. It opened at 10.00 and at first the queue moved moderately fast. We got around to Debenhams at about 12-ish (we were told by another fan that when you could see Debenhams and NatWest you were close!), but at about 12.30 things slowed right down. The queue literally did not move more than three or four people forward in about an hour. At this point I couldn’t feel my legs and we ended up sitting on the floor. We then contemplated giving up. We said we’d give it until 14.00 and see how far forward we had moved by then. I actually thought at this point we would not get there before store closing at 18.00 :O Then luckily the queue started moving steadily again and we finally got in at 15.45! It was definitely worth queuing for but I don’t think I would do it again this month. If things quieten down there I might return for a second look, but I have a feeling it will be this busy until closing day.
I would also like to mention how amazing both the staff in the Pokemon Centre London and Westfields staff managing the queues were.
The staff in the store were so lovely and friendly, they were all smiling and chatting with us and making everyone feel welcome. It must be difficult to work there with such a massive footfall every day, but they all did it with smiles on their faces and really made the experience a positive one.
The staff from Westfields managing the queues were really great. They ensured that the queuing was an orderly process and no one tried to cut in line when they shouldn’t! They were really friendly and helpful too, especially as no one had advised them of just what a job all this would turn out to be!
Overall it was a great (and long!) day. We also managed to fit in a bit of other shopping at the end too!