Several people were reportedly injured at the much-hyped Pop Mart grand opening in Central World yesterday due to large crowds and what bystanders say was poor queue management.
The opening marked the first-ever flagship store in Thailand for the popular Chinese collectible toy brand, with hundreds lining up on opening day to make purchases.
However, tensions among the crowd arose when people began running towards Central World trying to cut queues, leading to a pushing and shoving frenzy that prompted altercations. Police said that although the situation was chaotic it was largely under control thanks to security teams on hand.
A video shared by Nachaya Toatong showed the fan fever and injuries sustained by hopeful customers.
“No one is at fault in this case except Pop Mart Thailand, a selfish brand without caring about safety at all,” she wrote.
Nevertheless, the incident sparked criticism on the internet, with many people blaming the store for inadequate queue management. There were several unconfirmed reports about queue-hiring groups and scalpers that took up large portions of the queues.
“Pop Mart’s first day was really scary,” tweeted @sawasdeeacey. “ Instead of using online forms, everyone lined up in person. I wonder if they were afraid of not generating news about the store’s opening on the first day, but people fought and got injured.”
Pop Mart said it would issue a statement regarding the incident in detail by Thursday. As of Friday, the only statement made by the brand acknowledged the situation but did not elaborate on the cause or any kind of solution. The latest post shows that the Skullpanda Hoar Frost limited figure, priced at THB10,000, sold out.
“Thank you to all the fans for giving a warm welcome to POP MART Thailand. The brand sincerely apologizes for the incident that occurred. The brand has been collaborating and planning a product purchase queue system with the Pathumwan District Office to find a solution together, and an announcement will be made today,” the store said on Facebook.
Many Thais lined up in front of the mall as early as 7am, eagerly waiting to own one of the figures.
There are plans to open at least 20 more pop-up stores and kiosks in the future.
Pop Mart is also known for its use of “blind boxes,” which include a random mix of toys that remain a mystery until the box is opened. While controversial to some, the trend is so widespread in China that economists often discuss the effects of the “blind box economy” and Pop Mart’s heavy use of the business tactic comes up frequently.
Currently, Pop Mart has over 136 global branches spread across 33 cities. In addition to this, it also owns countless toy vending machines across 62 cities that cater to various demographics.