By Ben Coley
Lexington, NC (AP) – The small, cozy space at 29 W. Third St. may have a different name, but toys are still the main game.
At the beginning of July, 17-year-old Blake Edwards opened Blake’s Toy Chest, a vintage toy shop full of classic toys and games. The shop is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Edwards moved into the space previously occupied by fellow toy enthusiast Shannon Myers and his Ogopogos Toys and Pop Culture Museum.
“I’ve been wanting to have a store ever since I started this,’’ Edwards said. “(Myers) moved out and went back to Raleigh, so I felt like this was a perfect opportunity to go ahead and open it.’’
Blake’s Toy Chest is packed with comic books and a variety of toys including super heroes, Star Wars, Voltron, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie Dolls, wrestling action figures and several other items.
For the past five years, Edwards has been buying and re-selling toys through yard sales, estate auctions and toy shows.
“I didn’t really collect anything when I first started – it just kind of accumulated,’’ Edwards said. “… I started buying some antiques, and I started with the wind-up toys and battery operated toys from the `40s and `50s and then it kind of took off from there into the `70s and `80s. And what got me really collecting is I grew up with the Turtles and Power Rangers so I started collecting Turtles, Star Wars and other stuff.’’
Edwards previously attended Southwest Randolph High School, but he’s been taking courses online since last year. He will be a senior this upcoming school year and is considering majoring in business once he graduates.
“I was going to wait till I graduated and everything to get a store, but the opportunity came up so I took it,’’ Edwards said.
The young entrepreneur is constantly adding to his inventory and traveling to toy shows in Greensboro, Charlotte and Hickory. He even hosts his own show in Salisbury. According to Edwards, the shows are similar to any regular event where vendors rent tables to set up their collections and sell to interested customers.
In two weeks, Edwards is scheduled to attend a toy show in Charlotte.
“I normally try to take a variety,’’ Edwards said. “That way you have more chances to sell, but I normally stick around Star Wars and Ninja Turtles and Megos.’’
Coincidentally, Blake’s Toy Shop opened July 1, just a couple of days after the remaining Toys “R’’ Us stores in the United States closed their doors.
However, as a longtime toy aficionado, Edwards still sees the benefits of having a brick-and-mortar toy store.
“A lot of people want to come in and actually have it their hands and touch it and see what they’re getting,’’ Edwards explained. “I know a bunch of people that don’t even order online or e-Bay or anything because they’d rather pay five or 10 or maybe even $20 more to have it in their hand.’’
As for his young age, Edwards said he’s never questioned whether he was too young to open his own shop.
His friends approve and believe in what he’s trying to do. The same is true for his parents, who helped him move in the toys and assist him around the shop.
“My parents were behind me 100 percent of the way,’’ Edwards said.
According to Edwards, the customers are glad there’s a toy shop, as well, which should be of particular convenience during the holiday season.
Toys are Edwards’ passion – it’s what motivates him each day.
“I enjoy just being around the stuff that I like to do and making conversation with people that enjoy the stuff just as much as I do,’’ Edwards said.
Blake Edwards with some of his store’s stock Photos: Ben Coley