As a child, Gary Poserina loved shopping at Curious Kids toy store in St. James. Now he has a chance to relive those days as he’s opened his own toy store in Miller Place with his wife Nancy.
, which opened on Nov. 17 in the former Guitar Asylum space at 451 Route 25A, is a small business that’s hoping to recreate that sense of whimsy Gary experienced as a child for today’s generation that only know big-box stores. A giraffe and Angry Bird are some of the store denizens that call out to passerby’s from the window.
“My mom used to shop there all the time, loved the store,” Gary Poserina said of Curious Kids. “Then they went out of business. She said she missed that store, she liked the convenience of a small shop. We researched it and thought it was a pretty good business.”
While a passing thought in his mind for five to six years, he began the heavy research six months ago. With that knowledge of fixtures and logistics, it took only a month for the store to open, in plenty of time to benefit from the holiday season.
The Poserinas believe that one key factor of competing with the big box stores is to carry brands that the others don’t. Items like Brudor Trucks, Carolle dolls, and Zipfy sleds are some of the products that are hard to find elsewhere. Another key factor is the personal touch of a small business.
"A lot of people in the community are happy to have us,” Nancy Poserina said. “It’s a quick birthday present. We wrap them [and] we walk it out to the car for them. They can run in, get it wrapped up and go. They don’t have to fight the traffic. We just don’t have 20 Holly Happy’s, we might only have five Holly Happy’s. We don’t need to take in excess.”
Becoming entrenched in the community is a goal that will contribute significantly to the store’s survival. Aside from the usual promotion of advertising in local publications, the Poserinas have used some guerilla marketing to get their name out. They’ve been stopping by local grocery stores and hair salons handing out flyers to increase their visibility.
Yves Michel, Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development, thinks that is a sound strategy.
“If this store becomes entrenched in the neighborhood, the neighbors will want to support it," Michel said. "It’s local helping local. People are sensitive to the plight of small businesses.”
As for the post-holiday downturn in the toy market, the Poserina’s believe they have the business strategy to keep them going into the next holiday season. The strategy includes low overheads and advertising. Nancy Poserina, who has a degree in teaching, believes that educational materials will be in demand year-round, as well as that child-like feeling that overcomes a customer when a large stuffed giraffe stares at them through the window.