I am excited to feature April's “Meet our Neighbor” series. Each month, I spotlight one of our fabulous North Shore business neighbors. This month, we kid around with Justin’s Toys.
Justin’s Toys in Glen Cove is a perfect example of do what you love, love what you do. “There is nothing more gratifying than a child coming in for the first time, wide-eyed and in awe, ready to play with everything,” says owner Robert Lee, who opened the store last summer. “And let’s be serious, we’re all kids at heart, so what’s cooler than playing with toys all day?”
Mayor Suozzi with Rob Owner of Justin's Toys
Although not yet a parent, Lee imagined his store to be stocked with toys that he’d want his own kids to play with someday. “I understand how important play time is, and wanted to impact the community in a positive way by offering games and toys that are both fun and educational.”
The biggest sellers? “Classic toys have come back and, surprisingly, Melissa and Doug is our most popular brand,” says Lee.
The Glen Cove resident is no stranger to the business world, or to the local Glen Cove business community. “I was born into an entrepreneur household,” says Lee. “My family owns Glenco Liquors, located in the Glen Cove Stop & Shop Center. When KB Toys went out of business five years ago, my father suggested I open a toy store.” At the time, Lee was a Stony Brook University graduate and working as an actuary in corporate America. “I jumped when the timing was right and I am so happy I made that decision.”
One of the perks of owning a toy store is attending the annual Toy Fair in NYC, which takes place in February. “It is the most outrageous event anyone could ever have the opportunity to experience,” says Lee.
On the flip side, there are challenges to the business. “We do not purchase many of our toys at the same price as department stores,” Lee explains. “We carry many of these items as a convenience, but it is impossible to offer them at the same price as franchises.” Of course, that’s especially hard for children to understand. “There was a kid who chose one of the biggest Lego sets we have and asked us if he could change the price because his mom said that it wasn't in the budget. We asked how much we should change it to and the boy replied ‘one dollar.’ Out of the mouths of babes.”
Justin’s Toys may be a local Glen Cove toy store, but it has a far reach. “We have a popular online website which we launched this past holiday season,” explains Lee. “Most of our website sales are specialty items that are either hard to find or discontinued and, believe it or not, Australia is one of our biggest purchasers for 1Direction Dolls! In the future, we hope that sales online will be as frequent as sales in our storefront. And, there may be a time where we evolve into becoming toy distributors.”
In the meantime, the Glen Cove store will evolve into hosting kid’s parties. “We had a tie-dye party and it was such a success,” says Lee. “We will certainly have more crafty events in the near future and we will be kicking off our first birthday party soon. We are going all out with glitter tattoos, arts and crafts, pizza, dancing and Pin the Tail on Eeyore.”
The best kept secret about Justin’s Toys? “We have free gift wrapping for birthdays.”
It’s always great to shop locally, says Lee. “Local helps local. When we renovated the front of our store we bought a runner from Glen Floors in Glen Cove, and that weekend a handful of new customers came in saying they’d heard about us through that store.” Lee is also appreciative of the savvy business help he’s received. “It’s so great working with Deborah Orgel-Gordon, the owner of Gem Craft Boutique in Glen Head. She’s a wealth of knowledge and her vast experience with multiple businesses is unmatched.”