Changes on the way for Rochester's most popular toy store
After 30 years of running a successful Rochester store, ABC Toy Zone owners Steve and Rene Nordhus are planning to retire from their shop at 122 17th Ave NW in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center.
ROCHESTER — Even fun and games can wear on a person after a while.
After 30 years of running a successful Rochester store, ABC & Toy Zone owners Steve and Rene Nordhus are planning to retire soon from their shop at 122 17th Ave NW in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center .
“We really are just tired. I can't say that enough,” said Steve Nordhus. “We just felt it was time. Everything that has been going on in the last couple of years took more of a toll than we thought it would.”
While the plan is to step away from the store in the next three to five months, they hope that ABC & Toy Zone, which they created from scratch, will continue.
He said they have spoken to at least four possible buyers of ABC & Toy Zone, which remains profitable.
“We're excited about possibly selling, so we’ll see where that goes,” said Nordhus.
He added they were very grateful that when they told their team of 17 employees, everyone said they want to continue working in the Miracle Mile store through the transition.
This year will wrap up a long run for the Nordhuses. They started their own take on a traditional toy store 30 years ago in the Barlow Plaza shopping center.
“We put sweat and blood and tears into this place. All three of them have come multiple times over the years. When we first started, I traded in my pickup and got our first $20,000 worth of inventory,” remembered Steve Nordhus. ”I borrowed my old man's station wagon, which was quite a gem at that time, so it was quite the building experience.”
That first shop moved to a 3,600-square-foot spot in Miracle Mile and then evolved into two stores — the Toy Zone and an educational supplies store called ABC. In 2004, they merged ABC and the Toy Zone stores in the 9,700-square-foot space that formerly housed Creative Expressions.
ABC & Toy Zone is known for its wide array of traditional and hard-to-find toys that included extension offerings from Lego, PlayMobil, wooden toys from Melissa & Doug as well as fun gear for teachers.
The store has also been long known as the holiday home for Rochester's most popular Santa Claus for the past several years.
“It'll probably be more tears than I ever thought I would ever cry,” said Steve Nordhus of the coming changes. “Within the next probably three to five months, we will probably either turn it over to someone or else we'll be closing the doors.”