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For more than 68 years, shoppers in Concord and surrounding towns have had the joy of shopping for toys and gifts at the Toy Shop of Concord, known as America’s oldest specialty toy store.
His philosophy is “Toys are serious business when it comes to the value of play”.
But due to the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, among other reasons, playtime is over for owner David Hesel, who plans to close his popular store on July 31. A clearance sale is expected to begin on July 9.
âI am at the age where I should retire,â said Hesel, 73, who took over the company in 1988. âThe virus played a role in my decision-making process. Even though we reopened, not only myself, but other toy stores that I’ve spoken to about the territory we’re in, it just doesn’t come up. â
Thanks for the memories
Hesel views the past 22 years as a big picture of all the families and generations that have walked through Walden Street and most recently 88 Thoreau St.
âI remember young children who are now moms at Concord,â he said. âI think it’s the joy to see these children grow up and become parents. I think it’s memory.
Hesel said he’s seen toys in the industry evolve over the decades, but seeing the city evolve made more sense.
âIt’s been part of the Concord family for all these years,â he said. âIt’s the great memory. I will definitely miss it. But it’s time to move on for me.
Why buy the store?
Hesel worked for a toy maker in his youth. Her children were 3 and 5 years old at the time. The constant travel took away time from his family that he could never recover.
âI just wanted to be a part of my kids’ lives growing up rather than just seeing them on the weekends,â he said. “It was the determining factor for me.”
Hesel said being her own boss also played a role, but being more involved with her children, who are now in their 30s, was most important.
âI wanted to see my own kids grow up rather than being a dad on the weekends,â he said.
The store nearly closed in 2015 when Hesel received an invoice from its owner for $ 80,000 for the cost of maintaining the common areas while the store was still located on Walden Street.
The announcement of the closure sparked thousands of comments on social media, led to an online fundraiser, and brought in dozens of hand-made ‘Save the Toy Shop‘ designs – most of them by children – which were displayed in store windows.
Hesel ultimately chose to move to rue Thoreau.
Life after the store
Hesel said he plans to do business consulting after locking the doors one last time. With his new free time, he will be heading to New York to visit his family.
But no matter what he does, Hesel said he will always be remembered by the customers – both in Concord and in the surrounding towns – who have faithfully supported him for more than two decades.
âI cannot express my gratitude for all their support over all these years,â he said. âIt warmed my heart. And to all of the employees who have been with me all these years, they have been wonderful. This is the best band I have ever had.
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