Mountain Top Toys opened in 1992. The same year a number of toy store owners organized ASTRA - the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. (We joined last year, our first as store owners, and ASTRA has been a great help in making us not feel on an island, disconnected from the rest of the retail world. An organization that has provided a wealth of information for independent specialty toy store owners like us who jumped into a retail industry in flux.)
Sadly, we read recently where one of those toy store owners who helped form ASTRA back in 1992 is closing his store. As in, this month. Larson's Toy and Games in Columbus, Ohio.
In this Columbus Dispatch article, owner Greg Larson was quoted as saying: “It was a business but also a personal mission. We wanted to pass along the value of play for kids, giving good, healthy play. We wanted to show the value of engaging their curiosity for their development.”
After 33 years in business, Larson is closing his store to retire to Florida. He chose to close rather than sell because the business has his name in it. "There’s a certain level of recognition and, if I wasn’t going to be in charge, I didn’t want to sell. It was built to reflect my values, my passion. I didn’t want to change that." Understandable. And hey, after 33 years, he can do whatever he wants. Joanna and I have owned the store for less than two years, and the thought of owning it for another 31 years makes our legs feel weary and our heads dizzy.
What an accomplishment. Our hats are off to Greg. And we hope another toy store in Columbus will spring up to help fill the void Larson's departure will surely create.
Patrick Holland, born in a Cabbage Patch and raised inside the Honeycomb Hideout, is a former Oompa Loompa. He is now co-owner of Mountain Top Toys (with his not-so-silent partner and wife, Joanna), and parent to two daughters, both of whom are beginning to realize their father is just plain nuts. .