After its previous owners closed its doors last month, local toy store Toy Joy reopened over the weekend after being sold in an auction to new owners.
Shelley Meyer and Fred Schmidt, who also own the boutique stores Wild About Music and Austin Rocks Texas, are taking over the business while working closely with the previous owners, Elizabeth Newsome and Trevor Yopp.
“The best thing about having Toy Joy be purchased by Shelley and Fred [is] they’re experts,” Newsome said. “They’re really good at keeping an eye on and making sure that the rent is going along with the sales numbers.”
In May 2013, Newsome and Yopp decided to move the store — which sold an assortment of specialty and retro toys — from its decade-long home on 29th and Guadalupe streets to a new location on Second Street in downtown to save on rent costs.
“The biggest issue was just the rent was very high, considering our sales were going down,” Newsome said. “You know the UT campus. It can be really great for businesses that cater really specifically to students.”
Newsome said worsening traffic patterns in the area also caused problems for the business.
“The traffic has gotten so crazy around campus,” Newsome said. “A lot of our regular customers have been telling us that they couldn’t deal with coming to that area of the town. Campus was too busy for them to park and to find parking and get in, so they were avoiding that area.”
After moving locations, Newsome and Yopp became close with Meyer and Schmidt, whose Austin Rocks Texas store is just across the street from Toy Joy.
“We have known [Newsome and Yopp] for many, many months but have gotten to know them really well in the last six months, and they let us know there was going to be an auction,” Meyer said. “The main thing that the business was suffering from was a lack of capital, so [it] needed more liquid capital to be able to buy more stock, and [it] did not have that available, and so the stock got very low.”
Yopp said Meyer and Schmidt are guides to both him and Newsome, and the new owners have the capabilities to keep the business producing revenue and create an Austin icon.
“They were our sort of business mentors, so to say,” Yopp said. “One of the best things about the whole situation is they are already operating two successful businesses, and they have the financial backing behind them to put this business to right and make it a bigger, more powerful piece of Austin than me and [Newsome] were ever able to do.”