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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 1:34 pm | Overcast with Haze 60º


Store Owner Hopes Montecito Will Go Toy Crazy at Her New Location

Melissa Moore designs her shop as an inviting, happy place for customers — and their kids

Opening a new toy store is like having a baby for Melissa Moore, owner of Toy Crazy at the Montecito Country Mart.

Like a nervous mother, the Simi Valley-based businesswoman says she plans to drive to her new location to check on her “new child,” until at least the end of the year.

Targeting a growing number of younger families in Montecito, Moore last week opened the third location for her chain of specialty toy stores, this one at the shopping center at Hot Springs and Coast Village roads.

“There was a huge void,” she said. “In a town like this, it’s a perfect niche for boutique stores like ours.”

Landlord James Rosenfield invited Moore to open up a new location in Montecito after renting retail space to her at his Brentwood Country Mart in Santa Monica for the past seven years. She was able to drive between Brentwood and her original store in Malibu but the reality of a third means she now has to rely on managers.

“I think that the hardest part for me for was letting go a little bit,” Moore said.

Montecito has opened a new market of people who are always happy and in a good mood when they come into the store, making the commute worthwhile, she says.

“I want people to come in feeling good and leave feeling good,” she said.

Born and raised in Valencia, Moore got her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from California State University, Chico. She decided during her senior year that a journalist’s life wasn’t for her.

After college, she worked as a representative for a corporate toy company but realized after three car accidents in six months that constantly driving on Los Angeles freeways wasn’t for her either.

She then went back to her roots at a Malibu toy store called Toy Addict, where she had started working as a 14 year old and essentially managed it at the age of 16. Soon after her return, owner Sharon Hill sold the business to Moore, who renamed it Toy Crazy.

The low stress and friendly customers encouraged Moore to plant her feet in a business that had suffered massive recalls of toys made in China. Today, she receives letters certifying safety with every order she places.

“It was a major shakedown in the toy industry,” she said. “Luckily the restrictions are so tight that it’s built confidence again.”

Moore sees any time children play, with a toy or not, as educational because of their exploration and creativity. With her son having plastic knights and dinosaurs battle on the floor of the shop it is evident she doesn’t exactly leave her work at the office.

When asked what her favorite toy in the shop was she picked up a small Raggedy Ann from the shop’s window display. The doll with red yarn for hair was a perfect match for any redheaded girl when Moore was growing up.

As someone who loves people, she feels good when someone leaves her stores with a big smile. Going forward, she hopes the community sees Toy Crazy as a comfortable place to bring their children.

“My goals is to have people feel like it’s their store, not mine,” Moore said.

Click here for more information on Toy Crazy, or call 805.565.7696.

Noozhawk intern Daniel Langhorne can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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