not all fun and games

| 11 Jul 2016 | 04:06

In 1931, a married couple named Mary and Arnold opened a toy store aptly named Mary Arnold Toys, which still stands today as the city’s oldest toy store. Next month, it will be moving up Lexington Avenue from between 73rd and 72nd Streets to between 80th and 81st Streets.

The store has been at its current location for 19 years, but its 15-year fixed-term lease is ending and the owners bolted for a location with a 30 percent cheaper price tag, avoiding potentially falling victim to rent’s rising tide.

“The [new] deal is much better than what we have here,” said Ezra Ishayik, who owns the store with his daughter Judy. He also acknowledged the higher price that the store would have paid had they stayed at their current location.

“To the landlord, [the price] is fair, to us, it is not fair,” he said. “It is his job to rent it, he’s going to have his price. I wish it was lower, more reasonable, but that’s what it is, we can’t fight the reality.”

Although the new space is several hundred square feet smaller with less window space, the move is a testament to the store’s ability to stay alive as its competitors, including the legendary FAO Schwarz, have fallen by the wayside. Ishayik said Mary Arnold Toys has been able to maintain its existence due to its enormous inventory and quality customer service.

“Right now, retail in general is difficult, no matter what anyone says. We possibly have a lot more than FAO Schwarz in merchandise — whatever the customer wants, we have it. From that point of view, the customer has to find something,” Ishayik said. “Service is our principle. It is the utmost most important thing we do in the store. When a customer comes in, we greet them in the front and if they accept any help, we help them.”

Christine McManus, said she shops at Mary Arnold Toys for its variety, manners and location.

“It’s got every choice for a child, it’s a community store, it’s not a big chain store, and they always are polite,” she said. “It will be missed right here for the convenience.”

Ruby Diaz, a frequent customer of Mary Arnold Toys for her son, said she comes to this store in particular “because this store has been here for a long time. That’s the point, the convenience and the familiarity of the store. This is the only toy store that I am very familiar with.”

Mary Arnold Toys is currently having a clearance sale because they cannot fit their entire inventory into the new, smaller space. Despite the decrease in size, the new store will have a large basement, which will allow for onsite storage as opposed to paying to use a separate public warehouse.

In addition, one unique aspect of the store is its window displays, well known for their creativity, which Ishayik said would continue at the new location.

“We have a window display man that has been with us for over 25 years, since we started,” Ishayik said, “we can’t replace him.”