Toy Store

Former Toys ‘R’ Us manager opens his Own Toy Store

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Glendon Warner always wanted to run his own business. So, when he and 33,000 other Toys ‘R’ Us employees lost their jobs this year as the company closed its U.S. locations, he saw the behemoth retailer’s absence as the perfect opportunity.

He opened his own toy shop.

“Sometimes,” Warner tells MONEY, “it takes one business to go out of business for another to go into business.”

Toys, Babies & More opened in a 1,600 square-foot location in Hyattsville, Md., in late September — just in time for the busy holiday season. The unassuming store is filled with stuffed animals, gadgets, toy cars, dolls, and more — a selection informed by Warner’s experience at Toys ‘R’ Us and his four kids.

Warner immigrated with his family to the U.S. from Guyana over a decade ago and says opening his own business meant achieving the American dream. But getting here wasn’t easy — it required years of sacrifice and strategic planning.

The former Toys ‘R’ Us store manager had already attained a license last fall before his employer announced it would close all 800 of its U.S. stores. He saved his tax refunds and found extra income by selling toys and other items at flea markets with his wife for years to afford the downpayment on his store’s location. “We were using that as fuel to get to go to where we want,” Warner says.

toy store

At first, he thought about opening a dollar store — perhaps a worthwhile bet as stores like Dollar Tree and Dollar General add more and more locations each year while other retailers flounder in comparison. But with the closure of America’s largest toy retailer, he saw an opening in the market in his community. And he took it.

“The community that I’m in doesn’t have anything like a toy store. Even at Walmart, there’s a long line,” Warner says. “God blessed me in a time where I can afford to pay the rent.”

Like tens of thousands of former Toys ‘R’ Us employees, Warner did not receive any severance pay when the retailer shuttered earlier this year. Thousands of these laid-off workers fought for months for their severance pay (Warner says he signed a petition on Facebook at the time) and have wrestled to make ends meet as they sought to find new jobs. (On Tuesday, two of the company’s former owners — Bain Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts — announced a $20 million severance pay fund to be doled out to former employees, marking a win for employees months after they were out of their jobs.)

Now, with his own business, Warner says he wishes it were larger so he “could hire at least 10” former Toys ‘R’ Us employees. But, like many of them, the sudden job loss and lack of severance pay hit Warner hard, too. He still has car insurance bills, young children, and a $2,000 mortgage to care of. “It’s still a struggle for me, too,” Warner says.

He tried to find another gig to help keep his finances afloat as he planned for his store’s opening — but had no luck. His wife of 27 years, who works a registered nurse, picked up extra shifts. To save on costs, he enlisted his family — including his kids and two nephews — to help repaint and retile the store. He drove to trade shows in New Jersey and New York to buy hundreds of toys, and plans to hit another one in Las Vegas in the coming months.

Even now, with the store open, the money he earns goes directly back into the store. “It’s still not easy,” Warner says. “I still have bills.”

But he’s thrilled. Opening his own store is the cumulation of decades of experience — and surviving the tumultuous retail climate in the U.S. He first learned the tricks of the trade from a prominent businessman in Guyana who owned a number of restaurants and became like a second father to Warner. He listened to him conduct business over the phone; he learned the importance of saving money; he learned the necessity of making a sacrifice.

And so he did. Already married and with a child, Warner moved to the U.S. in 2006 to build a life of his own. He first worked at Sears — which now is facing the threats that come with bankruptcy — and earned just $6.95 an hour as a regular associate. He took the bus to and from work for two years and worked overtime to impress his bosses and earn more cash. He worked his way up the ranks and, within five years, became a manager — before leaving for Toys ‘R’ Us.

Each sacrifice created opportunity for more reward, Warner says. After riding the bus for two years, he bought his own car. After living with his uncle in Maryland, he and his wife bought their own home.

“These things play in your head as a man growing up,” Warner says. “It’s always my motivation. Nothing was given to me.”

Now, Warner is trying to build a loyal customer base. The store is brand new, and, while he says it serves an untapped market in the area, toys aren’t necessarily flying off the shelves. But he’s staying positive.

“Some days, no one walks in, and some days, for three days, I have no one walk in,” Warner says. “But it doesn’t break me because I have encouragement and motivations to make it happen.”

“It’s not all glory right now for me,” Warner adds. “But I’m happy to achieve the American Dream.”

Toys, Babies & More is located at 7455 Annapolis Rd. in Hyattsville, Md.

Telephone – (240) 559-8891

Temporary Website – Toys, Babies & More

Source: Time

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81 Comments

  1. To the toy store owner:
    I wish you the best,don’t forget to collect as many emails as possible for discounts,demonstrations, and reminders on slow days.set up on online also and always have a eye catching window!!!

  2. I wish this story would have promoted the store location so we can go to the store and support. And if the store was not close it would have been great to go online and purchase. Also list your company on the app black Wall Street. It will ping people when they are in your area and let everyone know your a black owned business.

    • Exactly!!! Online shopping would make it virtually impossible for u not to get business we are desperate for a store that has black dolls and action figures at the forefront and allows our children to feel like the center of the world rather than an afterthought

  3. if you haven’t done so already remember your brother and sister in other countries, who would like to support you. So online and international shipping. Well done!!

  4. Congratulations! All the best. It’s a bit of a drive for me but I will make it happen. I will also share on my FB page and with my Sorors!!! Being able to order online will definitely bring you a tremendous amount of business.

  5. I hope you don’t wait on building a website! Use Facebook and Instagram to sell your toys too! I tried to sell my handbags on Esty but my sales are mostly generated from Facebook. Give it a try! I will purchase educational toys from you! Good Luck, Congratulations!

    • I agree that the window display should always be on point and since the shop is small focus on a few high impact items rather than a random selection of items. Curate the store to cater to a specific audience. It will reduce the clutter and build a loyal clientele.

      Also the suggestion for adding an online component is key. Budget for a social media manager to get it going.

  6. Add fast & healthy food & drink & music & video, board & PC games. Advertise giving show’s with TV sreen in front of store. Pray over everything?! Be blessed

  7. Yes. Make your inventory available online. I’m out of state so I can’t buy local. Since Toys R US closed we have no Toy Store other than Walmart and Target

  8. Also while u do shows, whether it’s puppet or video, board & chest competitive games, u can give fund raisers. Be blessed & excell to excellence!

  9. I wish you the best of luck. It is wonderful to hear that you have opened your own business. I pray for your success.

  10. Congrats. I hear each day that people can’t believe Toys R Us closed, so your store will be a go to. Yes, please establish an online presence, also work your local community with service based projects for visibility and themed, cultural events, invite the education community to partner with you as well. Stay encouraged, God will back what he purposed in you.

  11. This is an awesome story. Pleas share when you have your online store up and running. You could maybe connect with Amazon, since they have the online sales for individuals.

  12. I ‘be work for Walmart for 31 years, I would buy all of my grandsons Christmas items from him!! Wish he had online!!
    Your store is great!! Praying for the best for you and your family!

  13. I wish you the very best. I live in reno,nv. So too far but I look forward to one day having grandchildren and shopping for them. I hope u can do your business online, I think you could get a lot more business that way too. And hopefully one day u will open in other states. Just like toys r us did. I love being able to go into a store to buy but to be able to be successful do online shopping as well and also utilize face book. That is an excellent source also. Many blessings to you especially in this holiday season. I hope you do better then expected and come out ahead. Blessings to you.

  14. Sooooo Happy for you!!! I alread shared this article with many people I know in the DMV area….I live in Philly, but I am down thin the area quite often and I MOST DEFINITELY will check you out and for sure support your business.
    I wishing you MUCH success and blessings of Flourishing for you new business, which I know will be GREAT.

  15. Congrats on your store opening Please add my email and update me when your website goes live. Stay focus and things will improve.
    I shop online and visit MD once in a while.
    I will spread the word on your store opening. Perhaps I can be a help to you with promotional items in the future.

  16. Congratulations on your business!…happy to hear another family hailing from Guyana no less has stepped out on faith to start a business. My family had a toy/candy store in NY as a child.
    As a daycare provider business owner myself may I suggest in your non-peak seasons:

    – a toddler new demo hour (space providing)

    -look into toys & entertainment for children with autism.

    – google ‘today is National__ Day’, and see if you can incorporate a sale attached to it

    -Every year on your opening Anniversary, make sure to do customer appreciation day

    – If you have the extra hands, offer free gift wrapping around Christmas

    – You can dress up as Santa around Christmas

    – A holiday treat for those who come in around New years

    -Honor Roll student/straight A student % off with report card

    -and as an ex-T-R-US employee, birthday offer

    – have cards on you at all times, get those emails & contacts.

    – Once you start to soar, connect with local PBA, schools in struggling areas, etc…

    God Bless

  17. Congratulations my brother. I stepped out on faith and opened a consignment, thrift and gift store, Imani Unltd in Boston. It hasn’t been easy but, praise God the doors are still open 2+ years later. There will be days that you will make no sales. Try to market through all channels…word of mouth, email, Facebook. I am pulling for you my brother.

  18. Congratulations! !! Honesty and hard work is the way to go! Very proud moment for you and your entire family!! Blesssings and good luck for a bright and prosperous future.

  19. Congratulations, a job well done! You are a great role model for many of us. Thank you and may God bless you and your business. From the great state of Georgia. 🙏🙏🙏

  20. Awesome example of what patience and perseverance can accomplish. I live in South Carolina and would love to shop with you online. Having any day with no customers is unexplainable. I want to shop with you.

  21. Congratulations! I as well as many other fellow New Yorkers would love to support your business. We were just talking about Toys R Us being out of business and not having any place to shop for our children. I suggest you create a website as well. Most shopping is done online nowadays. Blessings to you and your family! 😊

  22. Wish you well brother. Toys R Us was a great store that you could always find what you were looking for and more, and the pricing were affordable. Again, may God bless you with in your business and whatever you wish to do.

  23. Congratulations on your new store. As a consumer who loved and shopped at Toys R Us for her children, nieces, nephews, and now grandchildren, I wish you much success. Please inform me when your website is up. I’m ready to shop for toys, etc. Shopping in a Black owned store is a big plus.

  24. I’m totally going to patronize this shop, for my 2 year old’s gifts. This man is from Guyana, part of the Americas , and I believe we owe a huge debt of gratitude to African-Americans for 500 years of their blood, sweat, and tears!

  25. I too am in the process of trying to open up my own Toy Store business here in Niagara Falls, N.Y. After working for nearly 161/2 years for KB toys before they have finally closed their doors back in 09’…..Ever since then I have had numerous amounts of former customers come up to me wishing and loving the store…which gave me the desire of starting one myself. I already have a name and a licensed logo already Made by the name of DB s Toy Box. If by Any chance you can help give me some ideas on how to get things started I would be very appreciative of it. Right now I’m just in the process of trying to find a good grant that could help get things going…that’s the tough part that has been the thorn in my side … If anyone has any advice or ideas please feel free to stop me a line It would be very much appreciated.
    Duane B.

  26. Maybe we as a community should help this brother by buying from him, but there is probably someone among us who can build a good website and database or someone else who can design his logo and artwork. Yet another could do his printing work so that he is online for the holidays and ready to fulfill his dream.

    As black peeps let us help another person with more that only nice words. We can do this !!

  27. I don’t buy many toys but I want to buy every one from you. I don’t care about shipping. I want to see you succeed. Please post online ordering info.

  28. I just left here. Awesome little store! Beautiful family, very friendly, genuine and helpful. My daughter would love this place! See ya’ll again next week when the new inventory comes in!

  29. Not sure the toy store owner can see this… But Instagram… He needs to secure an IG account. I’m a collector of certain brands of toys and finding things on the shelf is usually a pointless endeavor and a huge waste of time, so I do a lot of my shopping from companies online and through IG. I understand his store is for his community, but like he said some times it goes days with no one going in… the online community is a huge market to tap into.

  30. This is the address to Glendon Warner’s store – Toys, Babies & More

    located at 7455 Annapolis Rd. in Hyattsville, Md.
    Telephone – (240) 559-8891
    Temporary Website – toysbabiesandmore.com

    Website may not be available yet.

  31. I am like Eric, while my grandkids don’t do toys anymore, please try to attract the young adults via toys and whatever fantasy is popular at the time. I’m sure you will do fine! I’d love to be able to order something online!

  32. This is awesome! I want to commend you for what you are doing right now. I am a mother, grandmother, aunt, and I reach out to other children who are in need. Thank you, my Brother, for being such a smart, courageous, and intelligent man. My prayers and support will be with you always.

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