New Canaan Toy Store looks ahead with new ownership
NEW CANAAN — New Canaan Toy Store, the staple destination for children’s amusement in town, has new owners — and with that comes some new things.
Nathan Shapiro and his parents, Joe and Ilene, have been the owners of New Canaan Toy Store after the previous owner, Chris Kilbane, sold them the locale a little over a month ago.
Shapiro, a 29-year-old Ridgefield resident, is experiencing his first foray as a business owner, but he points to his family’s history in bookstores as an example of the environment he has grown up in.
“My sister owns four bookstores called Book Culture in New York, so she’s a good resource,” Shapiro said. “My mom also has experience with bookstores, and so our family has this whole book and toy connection.”
And that’s evident already.
One of the new things Shapiro is pushing for in the toy store is a growing collection of children and young adult books in a grand, brown bookshelf in the northwest corner of the store. Series like “Harry Potter” and “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” as well as other books for younger children decorate the shelves.
Though the new co-owners are still getting their bearings, they have decided to digitalize the store’s sale system.
“We’re trying to figure out what to carry. You can’t have everything, but we’re trying to learn what people really want,” Shapiro said. “During our first week, it turns out that adults were coming in looking for thousand-piece puzzles and so we ordered more.”
Shapiro and his co-owners are also eyeing the opening of what would be their second toy store, Toy Post, in Westport by the end of the month. Eventually, once the sister store is up and running, they plan to make an intersystem between the two locales, so a customer who needs a product from one store can pick it up at the one closest to them.
Kilbane, who will be moving to North Carolina with his wife, said he was excited to see what the future held in store for the toy store.
“It’s a great business. It’s a lot of fun and it’s in a great little town — you get to know the community and everybody is your friend,” Kilbane said.
During his 22-year tenure at the store, Kilbane said he oversaw some of the biggest trends in toys, ranging from the advent of Beanie Babies to Pokemon cards and electronic pets.
“(Shapiro’s) timing is perfect. He’s going to catch the next wave of innovation,” Kilbane said of the current owner.
Downtown businesses have seen an increase in rent, and a number of customers lean toward online retailers like Amazon, resulting in the closure of businesses on Elm and Main Street. Kilbane, however, said the New Canaan Toy Store is here to stay as its part of a niche market.
“Seeing a little kid come in and staring at all the toys ... that’s something you can’t experience on a computer screen. An independent toy store carries unique things and it’s going to do just fine,” Kilbane said.