J.W. Allen celebrates anniversary
J.W. Allen and Sons celebrated their first complete year in business last week by doing what they do everyday play with toys.
The vintage toy store sells various board games from Monopoly to Anti-Monopoly, toy soldiers, 3-D solar systems, dinosaurs, horses, cars, trucks, cap and rubber band guns, gag gifts, pinball machines, Thomas the Train, Bob the Builder, candy, bats, books, scoops, arts, self-tattoo kits and a mini Mini Cooper.
"I think it’s cool," said Ben Agnew, a five year old who is a regular at the store.
His mom agreed.
"We needed a toy store here that sold nicer toys than you find at any other store," Janet Agnew said. "This place is great."
Jonathan William Allen, the J.W. in the store’s name, opened the store in late May 2005. He and his wife Jackie brought their three boys from New York City to open the store and to give the boys a better area in which to grow-up.
"We were coming to Park City a lot for skiing and to get away," Allen said. "We joked about coming here for years and then one day we asked why we were there handling all the stress. We thought, ‘Why don’t we move to Park City and open up a toy store?’ The more we thought about it the more sense it made."
Although Allen said he has learned a thing or two, he would make the move again in a heartbeat.
"So far it’s worked out well," he said. "I think we’re just going to grow every year that we’re here, but there are still people who don’t know the store is here. I guess that’s a good thing it means we haven’t totally tapped the market."
The store doubled in size last November when a florist who was supposed to move into the space now occupied by the toy store’s cash register backed out of the deal.
"We figured we’d pull the trigger then and get the space," Allen said. "There’s a lot more now that I can bring in the pinball machines are new, and there’s more outdoors and seasonal stuff, along with bigger more expensive toys we didn’t have room for before."
Aside from toys, Allen also coaches third- and forth-grade lacrosse. He played while growing-up in New York and at Curry College in Boston.
"In Long Island you’re pretty much born with a stick in your hand," he said.
Despite his enthusiasm for athletics, he has no intentions of turning J.W. and Sons into a sports store. That’s not quite original or creative enough.
"For the most part, I’ve tried to find unique things, even if they’re not politically correct, like cap guns or candy cigarettes," Allen said. "But I never went postal and I never smoked so I guess it’s just part of being a kid. Imaginative play is the biggest thing we try to push thing kids can use their imagination and creativity with."
Allen uses a lot of his own past to decide what to sell in the store. He said that even if it doesn’t sell, he just likes having it around.
"We try to always buy things that are either vintage or things that I remember and loved as a kid," he said. "Or new specialty items that other stores and big boxes don’t carry. I want to bring in things that are higher quality."
This includes items like Wash Away Your Sins Bubble Bath and Happy Childhood Memories Spray, but not a lot of electronics. Although, there are a few electrical items, including a small but functional Mini Cooper that can go seven miles per hour, and a Ferrari that can go 10.
"I try to have my boys demo a lot of things," Allen said. "I get one of an item and let my boys play with it. If they dig it then everyone else will like it too."
Pierce, 10, Kent, 13, and Liam, 16, all hand a hand in the creation of the store. Liam even created the graphics on the sign, right down to the moose.
"Even though J.W. Allen and Sons sounds like it could be a plumbing company, this is our family’s store," Allen said. "The boys still look through catalogs and say ‘don’t get this, or make sure to buy this.’ They’re usually right."
J.W. Allen and Sons is located at 1675 N. Redstone Center Drive and can be reached at (435) 575-TOYS. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
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