COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After more than 25 years in business, a Columbia mainstay is closing its doors. The Creative Kids Toy Shop is going out of business at the end of the month.
Nicholas Vazsonyi and his 3 kids are part of what's kept the door open at Creative Kids Toys in Five Points.
"We just wanted to support the idea of a neighborhood store," said Vazsonyi.
More than the green toys or the "made in America" labels, they come to Creative Kids for the service. It's a personal touch you can't find at the mall.
"It's just the service you get when you want to buy something or order something," said Vazsonyi. "That's why we keep coming back."
But over the years internet shopping and big box chains have chipped away at the bottom line.
"We have an opportunity to exit honorably," said owner Melodie Ingwersen. "And we think it's time to do that."
Ingwersen says it's a combination of financial reasons and personal goals for her and her family.
They're ready to take the next step, but that doesn't do much to comfort some of the customers who have grown up playing in the back of her store.
"One little girl came in and started crying when she saw we were closing," said Ingwersen. "I put my arm around her and said 'You know we've had a good time but in two years your favorite store will be Loose Lucy's!' hahaha."
Loose Lucy's is a hippie-style clothing shop down the street.
While the store still has a good selection of educational and green toys, finding the ones that are made in America has gotten harder in the past few years.
Ingwersen says it's part of a changing landscape that no longer has a place for businesses like hers.
"It's not just that you can't get a toy elsewhere, but it's a place in time, an experience that's in a changing time, and some people have been grieving that it's going away," she said.
Ingwersen says they'll be selling off the inventory at deep discounts until the end of the month. She says whatever is left will be donated to charity.
Ingwersen says a new store is getting ready to move into her space. She couldn't be specific, but says it will be a family-friendly business that will have a selection of toys.