By ANGELE LATHAM, The Jackson Sun
JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — A new toy store has opened in Hub City, bringing nostalgic vintage toys and a wide variety of pop culture merchandise to customers of all ages.
Eric Hoagland and his wife Jenny opened the Christmasville Cove store in February, making it their fifth location across the state.
“We’re excited to be here,” Eric Hoagland said. “The community has really welcomed us.”
Entering the store feels like a tactile wonderland, starting with the life-size Batman by the door and continuing with the rows and rows of action figures, niche toys, themed merchandise and chachka ranging from popular comics and tv shows to iconic movies and books.
“We try to bring in things from different genres,” he said. “We want everyone to be able to shop here.”
A primary focus of the store, according to Hoagland, is to make the toy world accessible to everyone.
“I noticed that when you go into a lot of toy stores, they only appeal to the male side,” Hoagland said. “I told (my wife) that I wanted to make the conscious effort to appeal to little girls and women too. So we have a lot of girl toys in here.
“That is honestly the most difficult toy to bring in. They just don’t make a lot of girl toys that aren’t Barbie dolls. So we try to bring in a lot of those. We want everybody — no matter what their age or gender — to be able to shop here.”
The goal is essentially to allow both parents and children to find the item of their dreams here, Hoagland said.
“There’s even stuff for the hardcore collector here,” he said, gesturing to the detailed statues lining the store — from a massive Slimer from the movie Ghostbusters, to a realistic Creeper from Jeepers Creepers.
“This one is my favorite though, since I’m such a Star Wars fan,” Hoagland chuckled, referring to the Jabba the Hut statue in the center of the display.
The business began years ago in humble roots, when the Hoagland’s children “outgrew their toys” and the couple began selling them online.
“It kind of grew out of our house — we had totes everywhere,” Hoagland laughed. “So we decided we needed a place to house the totes. We found a place in Hendersonville, and there was a small store area in the front. We put the toys out there just to see what would happen.”
To the couple’s surprise, interest in their selection began to pick up.
“You couldn’t find us — we were off the beaten path,” he said. “But people started noticing us!”
Soon the business grew enough that Eric, a former restaurant manager, and Jenny, an engineer, pursued the business full-time. It’s now flourished into a five-store chain, selling pop culture toys and merchandise, with a small collection of the vintage toys that started it all.
“When we first started, we focused on vintage toys. There’s a really big market for nostalgia pieces and things, so this is how it all started—collecting and selling vintage toys,” Hoagland said. “We still hold vintage near and dear to us, but I would consider us more of a pop culture store now.”
Prior to this store opening, the Hoaglands had never even heard of Jackson — but one day, Eric saw it on a map, “did some research, and saw that Great Wolf Lodge was coming.”
“Then we came down here, liked the area, and noticed all the development,” he said. “We were like ‘Oh we’ve got to come here.’”
The grand opening blew store records, according to Hoagland, and the team couldn’t be happier.
“It’s going really well,” Hoagland said. “We’re happy to be here.”
Additionally, each store is completely different — because the store allows customers to bring in items for appraisal, selling and trading, each location has a selection of vintage and pop culture items unique to the area.
“It really brings out the character of the community,” Hoagland said.
As the store grows in popularity, Hoagland jut wants to make sure customers know that the store is the place to express yourself.
“We encourage the weird here,” he said. “This is the place to find your niche.”
The store, located at 2538 Christmasville Cove, is open Monday through Friday 11 am to 8 pm, Saturday 10 am to 8 pm, and Sunday 1 pm to 6 pm Customers who arrive in cosplay costume receive 10% off their purchases.
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