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Concord teen turns to crowdfunding to save toy store

Sets up GoFundMe page after The Toy Shop of Concord announces plans to close

The Toy Shop has been a Concord Center fixture for 72 years.Handout/handout

Daniel Kramer remembers saving up his allowance for two months so he could make his first purchase at The Toy Shop of Concord.

The 16-year-old Concord resident said he was about 7 at the time and couldn’t wait to spend his money on a new Lego set.

“I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to go right in the center of my town and get a toy that I would enjoy and still have with me today,’’ Kramer said.

But future generations of Concord children won’t have that experience — The Toy Shop, a Concord Center fixture for 72 years, will be closing its doors.


David Hesel, who has owned the shop for the past 28 years, said he has to shutter his business when his lease expires at the end of June after receiving an unexpected bill from the landlord for expenses totaling more than $80,000.

Hesel said he’s unable, and unwilling, to pay, so he has no choice but to liquidate his inventory and move on.

“We don’t owe this and we will not pay this,’’ Hesel said. “I’m looking for another location but I haven’t found anything. I’d like to remain in the community but I need to find space and that has not been successful so far. I don’t have a lot of choices so this is where we are.’’

Kramer, devastated by the news, set up a “Save the Concord Toy Shop” page on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to raise money for the store. As of Friday morning, the campaign had raised more than $3,300.

“There has been a steady flow of donations coming in and most people have included a note saying they are happy there is a way to help out The Toy Shop,’’ said Kramer, a sophomore at the Middlesex School in Concord.


Kate Hesel, David’s daughter, has taken over managing the page for Kramer, who is in the midst of final exams at school. Kate Hesel said the money will not be used to pay the bills but could go toward legal fees.

She said the store will likely close but the family is still in negotiations with the building owner, Frank Foley, to work out a reasonable agreement.

Foley, whose father owned the building on Walden and Main Street until last year when he took over a majority ownership, said the charges are legitimate and must be paid. Foley said bills are for expenses dating back to 2010 — including a $12,000 rent reduction that Hesel negotiated at the height of the recession with the former property manager. Foley said Hesel is also responsible for more than $18,000 for lights and costs associated with lighting, and $54,000 in common area expenses such as oil and real estate taxes.

The Toy Shop is located in the same building as the Dotted I stationary store and the McWalter-Volunteer Insurance Agency.

Foley acknowledged that Hesel never received a bill for any of the expenses until now but said they are valid based on the terms of the lease. Foley said he’s doing his best to preserve the so-called Friend Block in town but needs cooperation from tenants to pay bills on time.

“He doesn’t want to pay increases to legitimate expenses,’’ Foley said. “If you don’t want to row the boat, that’s fine but there is a long line of people that do.’’


Jennifer Fenn Lefferts can be reached at jflefferts@yahoo.com.