Bay Area Toy Stores Offer an Alternative to the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Yes, it’s the first holiday season in 60 years without the iconic Toys R Us hypermarket for all things fun. The Toy Association says we’ll buy about 40% of our toys online, but we’re still craving the old-fashioned festive tradition of seeing those flashing, flashing toys and trains installed in stores.

“Everyone still has that memory, like in (the movie) ‘The Christmas Story’ with Ralphie pressing his nose against the store window, wishing for the Red Ryder air rifle,” the Toy Association CEO said, Steve Pasierb. shop online, but we know that toys are kind of touch shopping. You want to come in and have that toy experience.”

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Pasierb says many stores are stepping up to fill the void left by Toys R Us — where we bought $3 billion worth of toys every year until they closed in June. Many retailers have added or expanded their toy aisles. Target, Walmart, and even many grocery stores have toy shelves stocked for the holidays. Party City has transformed its Halloween pop-up stores into toy stores for the season. However, says Pasierb, these retailers cannot replicate the selection and experience of a full-fledged toy store.

“While more retailers are offering toys this year, we’re unsure of the depth and breadth of their selections,” Pasierb said. “A lot of retailers won’t risk buying super quantities of stock, simply because they didn’t want to risk having too much stock and being stuck after the holidays. So in the weeks leading up to Christmas , we could see a toy shortage.”

Pasierb said a team of analysts scoured retail stores and found many empty shelves. However, he says, local toy stores are taking advantage of the market gap to rejuvenate their businesses.

“We encourage children and adults to come and play with our toys,” said Matthew Luhn, co-owner of Jeffrey’s Toys in San Francisco, the city’s oldest toy store. His great-grandparents opened it as “Birdie’s Toys” in 1953. A decade later, it became Jeffrey’s.

“People always want to walk into a store. They want to touch the toys, they want to see the toys, they want to get advice from the people who work here,” Luhn said. “People crave experience.”

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Jeffrey’s is the kind of place where customers can walk in and smell the popcorn popping in the old-fashioned popper, and munch on a bag while shopping. A dozen employees offer to help find or suggest the perfect toy. A wooden train is set up for play. Luhn says Financial District employees come to lunch to throw a Nerf ball. Although smaller than an average Toys R Us, the store is packed with thousands of toys, ranging from stuffed animals to portable electronics and vintage comic books. The boxes in the back are filled with more toys to stock the shelves as the toys sell out.

“When Toys R Us closed, I was so sad,” buyer Toni Estacio said. “But then I saw this store was open and it was the oldest in San Francisco, so I had to stop by.” She chose a Barbie. doll and luminous racing car.

“Oh, she’s so helpful!” said Sophie R, who was buying toys for the children of a homeless family. Store co-owner Rosie Luhn helped select toys that are sure to please.

“Kids are going to love this,” Rosie Luhn said, showing her a set of balls that light up when shaken. She also picked out Lego sets and puzzles, then wrapped it all up in holiday paper, for free.

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Matthew Luhn said the store has easily doubled in business since Toys R Us closed. Jeffrey isn’t the only one thriving. Dozens of Bay Area independent toy stores are open and bustling over the holidays. find one near you, see our list.

Check out more stories from Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side here.

Bay Area Toy Stores

The LEGO Shop
Store offering the brand’s colorful building sets and bricks, as well as figures and toys.
San Francisco Westfield Center
San Francisco, California
(415) 778-2827

Toy Safari
Long-running store with a huge inventory of arts and crafts, games, puzzles, action figures and more.
Alameda, California
(510) 522-1723

A child’s delight
Toy store offering imaginative games for children, as well as games, clothing and furniture.
The village of Corte Madera
Corte Madera, California
(415) 945-9221

Ying hobbies and toys
Hobby shop specializing in eclectic model toy sets, especially anime-inspired action figures.
San Francisco, California
(415) 986-6787

Kimono my house
Collectibles store offering a wide range of sci-fi and Japanese anime toys, pins, and clothing.
Emeryville, California
(510) 654-4627

Talbot’s Toyland
Long-time supplier of all kinds of indoor and outdoor toys, dolls, hobby supplies and children’s bicycles.
San Mateo, California
(650) 931-8100

Teddy bear
Limited edition toys and gifts from independent artists, plus apparel and accessories, in a minimalist setting.
San Francisco, California
(415) 487-9000

Japan City Collectibles
Mall with toys, models, figures, gifts and other Japanese collectibles.
San Francisco, California
(415) 563-2970

Mr Mopps children’s books and toys
Colorful shop offering creative games and toys, as well as books for children from toddlers to teenagers.
Berkeley, California
(510) 525-9633

Disney Store
Disney retail chain featuring toys, clothing, collectibles and other official characters.
San Francisco, California
(415) 283-0245

Disney Store
Disney retail chain featuring toys, clothing, collectibles and other official characters.
Serramonte Center
Daly City, California
(650) 991-7104

Jeffrey’s toys
Famous children’s shop offering educational and imaginative toys, games and wooden craft supplies.
San Francisco, California
(415) 291-8697

Ambassador Toys
Small toy store with a wide selection of children’s toys, art supplies and educational products.
Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, California
(415) 345-8697

The LEGO Shop
Store offering the brand’s colorful building sets and bricks, as well as figures and toys.
Hillsdale Mall
San Mateo, California
(650) 571-9020

five little monkeys
Creative and educational toys, books and craft kits are the specialty of this bright and spacious store.
Albany, California
(510) 528-4411

Adventure & Learning Toys
Oakland, California
(510) 452-6470

Reach and teach books, toys and gifts
Toys, books, posters and music promoting non-violence and social, racial and gender equality.
San Mateo, California
(650) 759-3784

Mapamundi Children
Eco-responsible boutique offering high-end clothing, shoes and toys for babies and toddlers.
San Francisco, California
(415) 641-6192

Comix Experiment Outpost
Small comic book shop with a huge selection of current and back issues, plus a children’s section.
San Francisco, California
(415) 239-2669

Montclair Toy House
Long-running independent toy store with all kinds of games and novelties for all ages.
Oakland, California
(510) 339-9023

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