By Uwin Lugoda
With collectibles being all the rage these days, many stores have popped up trying to serve the needs of the collectors.
However Sri Lanka's first ever physical store came up last April. Ever since then Collectique has been the favorite of most collectors here. We were able to get an exclusive interview with the owner and founder of Collectique, Oshan Samaranayake.
Q. Are you a collector yourself?
A. Yes, I am a model car collector. I started collecting in 1997 and went crazy when I started earning in 2006.
Q. How did you get into collecting?
A. I was fascinated with car design and the closest I could get to having all my favorite cars was to collect accurate scale models of them. I specialized in the 1:18 scale. I was attracted to the high end models and I valued quality over quantity.
Also I have been a fan of main stream comic book characters, just like other kids from our era. The 90s saw a pop-culture boom in SL when all TV channels here showed a lot of 1980/90s hit cartoon series from Marvel, DC,Star Comics, Hanna–Barbera, etc.
And I always preferred statues over action figures but was scared to take the plunge as it was an expensive hobby. But I discovered Kotobukiya, who were making affordable statues in PVC, in 2015 and got hooked.
Q. How did you first come up with the idea for Collectique?
A. Well I always believed in being my own boss some day and was trying my luck in various ventures. 99% of them were failures but I learnt a lot from them. In parallel the model car collecting was getting too expensive for me (in 2010) so I decided to sell all the non-Ferraris, and I was shocked to be able to sell all of them in two days! Since then I tried bringing down high quality model cars as a part time business (since I knew there was an appetite for them here) but failed in that too. I was learning business sense the hard way!
The first Comic Con in 2015 took me by surprise and I was excited to expand my Kotobukiya collection. But to my dismay there weren't any vendors and this got me thinking. Later on I got together with two of my friends from school and formed Collectique in October 2016. Our vision was to become a one stop shop for all collectibles, but later we limited the scope to Pop culture and Automotive.
Q. When you started Collectique, what are some of the hurdles you had to jump through since this was the first physical collectible store in Sri Lanka?
A. The Sri Lankan market is tiny and still evolving, we had to face it as well as find good sourcing. A lot of friends and customers helped us along the way! We think big, so there will be a steady flow of hurdles that come our way in future too. We will never forget the people who helped us to come this far!
Q. How have you seen the geek culture grow here?
A. The geek culture has boomed! There has been many Comic Cons and the many Facebook pages dedicated to Geeks. Facebook groups like the Geek Club of Sri Lanka - Collectors page, have helped many vendors to approach the target market. It's a very exciting time for vendors.
Q. What are the highest selling collectibles in your store?
A. Hard question, anything to do with Batman, Wolverine, Deadpool, and Iron man sells. Brands wise, Kotobukiya (Statues), Hot Toys (action figures), XM Studios (statues) sell well.
We got the dealership of NECA (action figures), Prime one studios (Statues), CMC (model cars) and Unique & Limited (Fine art automotive prints) during the past month. We are in discussion with a few more as well. We are very excited about the future. We have created a win win situation. The collectors have accessibility to a lot of international brands at affordable rates.
Q. What are your future plans for Collectique?
A. We are trying to get into manufacturing our very own collectibles. Also we have introduced a membership program and we plan to bring additional value to the members. At the moment customers (non-members) can come to the shop and read comics free of charge. The membership program brings more benefits to the members. Apart from the usual membership discounts, we plan to build a gaming room that grants access to only members and their visitors, social events where the members get to bring their families, access to movie premiers, and maybe overseas trips! The sky is the limit!