Funky Town will host a grand opening for its first Springfield location at 212 S. Campbell later this month, owner Mike Balsamo said. (Photo by Ryan Collins)

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It only took Mike Balsamo a few days to fall in love with Springfield.

About a year ago, Balsamo, who was born and raised in Long Island, New York, was dragged to Springfield by a friend for a weekend getaway. By the end of the trip, he was so enamored of downtown he decided to expand his collectibles store here, even throwing down about $2,000 on a lease.

Funky Town, located at 212 S. Campbell Ave., next to Soap Refill Station, had a soft opening Aug. 28, Balsamo said. He will have a grand opening later this month but has not yet set the date. The store sells all kinds of retro and collectible items, including Pokémon and vintage sports cards, Funko Pops, Marvel memorabilia and other toys, video games like Atari and PlayStation, comics and much more.

“You name it, we have it in the pop-culture space,” Balsamo said.

Funky Town sells retro collectibles, video games and cards. The store, located at 212 S. Campbell, will host a grand opening later this month. (Photo: Ryan Collins)

The original store, located in the heart of Long Island, just celebrated its five-year anniversary. Setting up a second shop “halfway across the country” took a bit longer than expected, Balsamo said, but he couldn’t be happier with his choice to bring Funky Town to the Queen City.

“We really love the Springfield vibe and being part of a neighborhood that seems to definitely embrace its business community and its residents,” Balsamo said.

Funky Town’s mascot, known simply as “The Funk,” is proudly displayed in their store at 212 S. Campbell. (Photo: Ryan Collins)

Funky Town is in the building that once housed Sass Jewelers and it still shows signs of the 1890s splendor, like the original glass showcases, Balsamo said.

“Being part of Springfield’s history is also something we’re very excited about,” he said. “We want to be part of a reinvestment in Springfield’s” downtown.

While Balsamo is the only Funky Town owner, he will rely on his manager, Austin Georgakis, to be his eyes and ears in Springfield. Georgakis moved from New York to the 417 a few years ago and loves his new role, he said.

“I get to be a kid every day,” Georgakis said. “I get to relive my childhood every day through other people.”

For now, the store is focusing on getting more inventory in ahead of the grand opening, Balsamo said. He hopes the storefront will help foster a community in Springfield.

“We wanted to be a place where people can be themselves and be able to connect to people who share their interests,” Balsamo said. “I think the name” Funky Town “speaks directly to that. It’s about being your authentic self and finding what you love.”

Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is the business and economic development reporter for the Springfield Daily Citizen. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or rcollins@sgfcitizen.org. More by Ryan Collins