EVERETT, Wash. -- Everett has deep working-class roots, but in recent years another identity has been quietly taking shape.
When the rest of the rest of the region wasn’t looking, Everett was getting cooler.
If you haven’t been in downtown lately you need to make a trip.
There are unique restaurants and quirky businesses. There are new hotels and pubs. Funko – one of the hottest purveyors of pop culture just opened a huge new headquarters there.
And it’s not just cool for adults. It’s cool for kids too.
Imagine children’s museum is one of the best in the entire region and it’s doing some really innovative things to ensure every family has access to play.
The New Mexicans
We all need to eat and a city’s restaurant scene says a lot about its character.
After exploring the scene in Everett we’re convinced the city has a lot going on.
One spot helping define a new Everett cool is The New Mexicans.
Owners Vince and Evie De Simone bought the restaurant to years ago at the urging of their daughter Michelle.
“I told my dad it was a good investment,” said Michelle.
It also turned out to be a great place for the family to be together. Evie left her career in banking to run to the restaurant. Michelle works there too and oversees all the baking.
Vince still works at Boeing, but he’s the go-to-guy when anything goes wrong. He also holds the secret recipes for the famous chicken enchiladas and the giant cinnamon rolls.
Funko lends Everett its Nerd Cred
Everett is a great city, but is it a cool city?
One company, Funko, says it is and it’s going to get even cooler over the coming years.
Now Funko is on a mission to make that city the pop culture capital of the nation.
Funko makes and sells these little plastic likenesses of characters from movies, tv shows, comic books, sports, video games..you name it. The company was born in Snohomish County 20 years ago and it’s finally arrived in downtown Everett and it’s already making this city cooler.
Outside and in the new Funko headquarters has serious nerd cred.
“Yes, without a doubt,” said Company President Andrew Perlmutter.
Perlmutter says they want to share their geek capital with the whole city.
“We want it to become synonymous with geeks, nerds, you know why not?”
Funko CEO Brian Mariotti says that’s why they came to downtown.
“Everett’s got a bit of quirkiness to it.”
Now the company designs, makes and sells its own brand of quirk in its brand new 17-thousand square foot space.
“We built something that we feel is unlike any other retail space in North America,” said Mariotti.
People come from around the world to visit Funko.
Vice President of creative Ben Butcher says Seattle and Los Angeles are already destinations and now Everett can be too.
“We can have an identity here.”
It’s an identity that’s different and cool. It’s an identity rooted in the very design of their products.
“It starts there, it starts with someone saying man this is really cool – we know this is out there,” said Butcher. “What can we do with that. We bring that into the Funko world.”
Now the Funko world is expanding, empowering an entire city to realize just how cool – how fun and funky – it can be.
“Well I think nerdiest of the nerd, the geekiest of the geeks so if – I gotta feel like yeah, we’re gonna give whatever city we are located in some definite nerd cred,” said Perlmutter.
Funko is already attracting quirky businesses to downtown and inspiring existing businesses to embrace their quirks.
But it has big growth plans as well. In face the company president compared the future of its campus to Microsoft.
Cool for kids too
Everett is fast becoming one of the coolest cities in the region with a thriving restaurant scene and a hip business community.
But it’s a cool place for kids too.
That’s crucial for a whole bunch of important reasons.
All the latest research says that kids need more unstructured playtime to really fully develop.
And in Everett they are embracing that science in some really important ways at imagine children’s museum.
“Anyone can be an artist,” said the museum’s director of art Raniere.
In the art studio kids and parents are encouraged to use their creativity to make anything they want to. They can use markers, paint, glue or reclaimed cardboard among a bunch of other supplies.
Science and math are critical at Imagine as well. With exhibits that focus on water, wind dynamics, locomotion and even paleontology it’s hands on learning like few other places in Snohomish County.
But the art and science goes well beyond the four walls that encompass the museum’s physical home. Employees routinely travel to schools for lessons and classes. The administration does extensive outreach to families of different socioeconomic needs. Families from diverse backgrounds can also find a helping hand through unique programs.
The museum is nonprofit and relies on donations, grants and sponsors. Those dollars make everything possible.