A beloved toy store is closing its doors by late April after a 25-plus year presence in the community.
U.S. Toy is closing five of its seven stores nationwide including the Apopka location at 805 E. Semoran Boulevard.
The company is moving much of their operations online, where they deemed their performance would be more profitable.
Apopka’s U.S. Toy liquidation sale began earlier this month with a 25 percent off all merchandise. If necessary, that number would move toward 40 percent, then 70 percent and 90 percent.
U.S. Toy has four divisions: retail, or the brick-and-mortar stores; commercial for other stores, online businesses and catalogs; Constructive Playthings for early childhood, preschool and daycare entities; and CP Toys for Internet sales on marketplaces such as Amazon.
Seth Freiden, U.S. Toy CEO/owner, said that U.S. Toy has experienced the brunt of the economy like any other company.
“Our retail stores have been impacted by the economy, and people shifted to online shopping on Amazon,” said Freiden. “While we’re doing well on one side, our retail stores are feeling the effects on the other side. It’s gotten to the point where from a profitability standpoint, it didn’t make sense to keep our stores anymore.”
Several customers have been contacting U.S. Toy asking them to reconsider their decision. According to Scott Ralph, an Apopka father and teacher at Sorrento Elementary School in Lake County, Apopka has been the closing store receiving the most calls. Even people from Orlando and Lake County patronize that store.
Knowing the reason U.S. Toy is shutting down most of its retail stores, Ralph said the issue with online operations is that many teachers prefer to see, touch and purchase school supplies firsthand instead of waiting for them to ship out.
Through the community’s word-of-mouth efforts, anyone who is interested in keeping U.S. Toy’s presence may go online at www.ustoy.com and call the number there, said Ralph.
“We might be able to work together to change their mind,” he said.
An expanded version of this story will be on page 1A of the Friday, February 24, issue of The Apopka Chief.