During the 1990s, back when retail stores were the No.1 place for consumers to shop, one of the best and most creative retailers on the high street was Warner Bros. Yep, the movie/animation specialist had its own series of shops – better known as Warner Bros. Studio Stores – and they were bloomin’ awesome!
Those interested in all things WB could get their fix of the Looney Tunes, DC superheroes and classic Warner Bros. movies all under one roof, via a collection of stores dedicated to colourful characters. Filled with all different types of memorabilia, from key chains and cups to animation cels, T-shirts and more, Warner Bros. Studio Stores was an exciting place to part with your cash.
The first Warner Bros. Studio Store opened in 1991, with many cropping up in some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres across the UK. Manchester’s Arndale had one, as did Dudley’s Merry Hill and stores were even found further afield in Australia and the Middle East.
Not only did the Studio Stores boast a range of neat products – including many exclusive items – they also looked amazing too. The exterior of each store boasted huge statues, usually of a classic Looney Tunes character, while inside various movie, comics and cartoons were referenced throughout (there was even a dedicated zone for DC Comics).
The products featured in each store were extensive and plentiful. So, should you want a Daffy Duck watch, a mug in the shape of Gossamer or a Batman tee with matching baseball cap, then no worries, Warner Bros. had your back.
Perhaps one of the biggest highlights was the in-store gallery, which featured various pieces of artwork from classic Warner Bros. cartoons. For fans of Batman: The Animated Series, Freakazoid, Looney Tunes and Tazmania, this was a pure treasure trove of delights as it was chock-full of one-of-a-kind pieces of art that you simply couldn’t find anywhere else.
These gallery pieces carried a hefty price tag, but they were simply stunning and a real draw for customers. Even if customers couldn’t afford one, they would still pop into the store just to take a look at what was available as it was something to truly marvel at.
Of course, maybe we should have bought some of the stuff, instead of just marvelling at it, as there always seemed to be more people walking around the store than actually buying anything. That’s the problem when you make your store so exciting to look at, the customers forget to open their wallets.
By the mid ‘00s all of the UK Warner Bros Studio Stores had closed down and the fun was over. As we’ve since discovered, retail has changed a lot over the past decade, but when Warner Bros. Studio Stores was a part of the retail landscape it truly was a golden age for shoppers.