Glendon Warner, a former manager at a Toys ‘R’ Us store, was one of those who lost their jobs when the giant toy retailer decided to close its U.S. locations. While most of the former employees were disappointed with the sudden layoff, Warner saw it as an opportunity to finally pursue his dream of opening his own toy store.
“Sometimes, it takes one business to go out of business for another to go into business,” Warner said in an interview with Money.
Warner launched Toys, Babies & More in a 1,600 square-foot location in Hyattsville, Maryland last September in perfect timing with the upcoming holiday season. The store is filled with several choices of stuffed toys, dolls, toy cars, gadgets, and more, as suggested by his four children and his own experience at Toys ‘R’ Us.
It was over ten years ago when Warner immigrated to the U.S. from Guyana with his family. Since then, it has always been his “American dream” to open up his own business. However, he had to go through several challenges and sacrifices.
Warner’s business license was approved long before Toys ‘R’ Us announced the closing of its U.S. stores. But he couldn’t immediately pay for the down payment for his store’s location. So he saved up his tax refunds and made extra income by selling toys and other items at flea markets with his wife.
He initially thought of opening up a dollar store — a relatively good idea considering the success of Dollar Tree and Dollar General. Yet when he saw a much better opportunity with the closure of America’s largest toy retailer, he immediately grabbed it.
“The community that I’m in doesn’t have anything like a toy store. Even at Walmart, there’s a long line,” Warner says. “God blessed me in a time where I can afford to pay the rent.”
The sudden job loss wasn’t at all positive for Warner. Just like most of the former Toys ‘R’ Us employees, he didn’t receive any severance pay. It was only until last week that two of the company’s former owners — Bain Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts — announced a $20 million fund that will be distributed to former employees.
Without it, he struggled to make ends meet while planning his store’s launch. He tried looking for a new job but to no ;avail. His wife of 27 years who works as a nurse had to take extra shifts. Meanwhile, his family — including his children and two nephews — helped in repainting and retiling the store. He went to trade shows in New Jersey and New York to buy hundreds of toys.
Even now that the store is already operating, Warner said the revenue still goes back into the store. He is still trying to build a customer base especially now that it has been just over two months since his store opened.
“Some days, no one walks in, and some days, for three days, I have no one walk in,” Warner said. “But it doesn’t break me because I have encouragement and motivations to make it happen.”
Despite that, Warner stays very positive and he wishes the store would become larger someday that he could hire at least 10 former Toys ‘R’ Us employees.
“It’s not all glory right now for me,” Warner added. “But I’m happy to achieve the American Dream.”
Toys, Babies & More will be launching their website soon on www.toysbabiesandmore.com