An iconic toy store in Concord is getting ready to shut its doors for good.
Owner David Hesel said he is closing the Toy Shop of Concord on July 31 so he can spend more time with his family.
“The time has come,” said Hesel, 73. “It’s time for me to retire.”
Hesel said he is the third owner of the toy store, which was founded in 1942 and has run the business for the past 32 years.
The shop bills itself as “America’s first specialty toy store” on its website. Hesel said research that he has done backs up that claim, because the store has remained independent and focused on toys that help children learn and grow.
The original owner, Hesel saId, took great care in selecting the toys that were sold in the shop. Back in the 1940s, the shelves were stocked with dolls, model airplanes, microscopes, chemistry sets, wooden blocks, Lincoln Logs, and other educational toys that stimulate children’s imagination and curiosity.
The Toy Shop of Concord still adheres to that philosophy.
“We choose toys for their inherent play value,” he said, “not because they’re advertised on TV.”
The shop carries Legos, Playmobil, jigsaw puzzles, arts and craft supplies, traditional board games (such as Candy Land, Sorry, and Clue). It also offers unusual items such eeBoo’s “Votes for Women” flash cards that teach kids about Frances Watkins Harper and other leaders of the suffrage movement who fought to give women and people of color the right to vote.
Like other businesses across the state, Hesel had to shut his store due to the coronavirus pandemic but he was able to do some curbside business. The decision to close for good had nothing to do with the pandemic, he said.
Since the news came out that the store will be closing, there’s been an outpouring of supportive messages on social media. “So sad. We’ve always loved visiting your shop — there aren’t many like it!” one Facebook user wrote. “Wishing you a happy retirement!”
Another Facebook user wrote: “Thank you for running such a unique store for so many years. It was such a Concord staple!”
Hesel said he has appreciated hearing from so many longtime customers.
“It’s very touching, and very sweet,” he said.
Hesel kicked off the store’s closing sale on Thursday, with every item in the store marked down 15 percent. On the first day of the sale, he said, “we were mobbed.”
And he posted a farewell message on Facebook.
“After owning The Toy Shop for 32 years I have decided to retire effective July 31 and will be closing The Toy Shop on that date,” Hesel wrote. “It has been a pleasure serving the Concord community for all of these years and I wish everyone the best in the future. My sincere thanks to all of my dedicated employees who have made owning The Toy Shop a pure delight. I will miss all of you.”