'It's awesome': New pop culture, anime store opens in Raleigh

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Sunday, March 12, 2023
New pop culture, anime store opens in Raleigh: 'It's awesome.'
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Animazed also supports other small businesses by featuring independent artist merchandise in its store.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new small business is now open in Raleigh.

"Animazed" is a family-owned business specializing in everything from anime to manga to K-pop.

Store owner William Williams and his wife Susan have been fans of anime for their whole lives. Williams said they were inspired to open their own store after visiting a store in New York.

"She (Susan) caught me in a moment of weakness, and I was like let's do it," Williams said. "Once I set my mind on something. It's gonna happen."

He said his wife and kids help him run the store while he works almost 10-14 hours a day selling materials to commercial contractors. Williams says the fan base and love of anime is more now than it was before the pandemic.

"Pre-pandemic was big, but it's nowhere near where it is now," he said. Post-pandemic, people needed something to do. So they watch anime."

Williams said living in a rural area he saw the interest in anime become bigger when his son, who is a senior in high school, went back to school after the pandemic and his friends showed a new interest in the genre.

"Whenever he started going to high school, him and a few other kids were anime kids," he said. "Pandemic happens. He comes back...Everybody loves anime. Everybody is coming to him to talk about anime."

Williams says people often come into the store and wonder where to start.

"One of the cool things about anime, is that is encompasses every genre," he said. "You can kind of gauge the person, and see what they are into, and say you should start here... And it's amazing when they come back a week or two later, and get more...and more."

Pop culture and anime fans braved the cold rainy weather to attend the store's grand opening. Some fans even attended wearing cosplay or t-shirts representing their favorite characters.

"It's one of the first anime stores in this community. And I mean, it was just such a huge thing for me as a teenager. So the fact that Will and Susan brought it back. Just honestly, I get emotional about it because it's just so cool to see the store doing so well. It's amazing. It's awesome," cosplayer Elizabeth Phoenix said.

Animazed also supports other small businesses by featuring independent artist merchandise in its store.

The store is located on Glenwood Avenue near Umstead State Park.