After Tony and Clint Gibble got into toy collecting a few years back, they began buying and selling toys online.
It was a fun thing to do, especially during the winter when things got slow for their photography business, which focuses heavily on weddings. Their photography expertise came in handy when listing toys for sale after they cleaned and fixed them up. Earning a little extra money was nice too.
“Originally, we did it for tattoo money,” says Tony Gibble. Both he and Clint, a married couple who have been together since 2007, sport elaborate tattoos, especially prominent on their left arms.
The couple, who moved from Lancaster city to Elizabethtown two years ago, found that their house was being overtaken by toys, which they also picked up at flea markets and antique stores.
It got to the point where “we either need to put the toys in storage or we wanted to open a toy store,” recalls Clint.
So of course, the two decided on the toy store. On Sept. 13, 2019, The Tatted Toy Guys store opened at 50 S. Market St., Elizabethtown.
Their reputation as toy collectors, not to mention the colorful and elaborate displays in the storefront windows, have attracted attention, and customers, ever since.
While the store is usually open every Wednesday, the hours are a bit sporadic, especially on the weekends because of wedding gigs. Their friend and fellow toy enthusiast Jerrica Forry is happy to help (or just hang out) when needed.
But The Tatted Toy Guys will be there on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, from noon to 8 p.m. A 10% discount up to $10 will be given to anyone who says “Ho, ho, ho!” at checkout.
A store for all ages
Originally, their store was intended to be for adult collectors like themselves. Tony, 43, had begun collecting toys he grew up with, like He-Men and Pound Puppies. Being 10 years younger, Clint, 33, hadn’t been into toys as much but did like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“As we were getting ready to open, people were like, ‘Our kids are really excited for your toy store,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s not really a toy store for kids,’ ” Clint remembers.
But then before opening, the two quickly pivoted and made their store a place for kids of all ages, marketing vintage to today’s toys, with an emphasis on the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
“We wanted to recreate the feel of KB Toys back in the ’80s, where you walked in and they were smaller stores, but you felt immersed. You were in Toyland,” Tony explains.
Indeed, the shelves are crammed with everything from stuffed animals like Garfield, Mickey Mouse and Minions, to Fisher Price castles to Cabbage Patch Dolls, Trolls and Furbies. Shoppers will find things like Slinkies, Rubik’s Cubes and Mister Potato Heads in the mix too.
Prices for most toys range from $10 to $30. But the more valuable collectibles, like certain He-Man and Masters of the Universe toys and “Star Wars” figures, can be hundreds of dollars.
Parents love to point out toys they used to play with, like Care Bears, GI Joes and Power Rangers. And children can find the toys of their generation, like the newer My Little Pony line, Imaginext and “Frozen” dolls.
“It’s a fun adventure for the whole family now, which really makes it special ’cause you just get to see these reactions,” Tony says.
Toy collectors are also starting to discover the store, with some traveling from as far as West Virginia, Tony noted.
A place like The Tatted Toy Guys store shows that the magic of toys transcends generations.
“I’ve seen, especially fathers, if they get their kid interested in the toys they grew up with, it’s a bonding experience for them. The dads are interested in buying the toys and sitting down and playing with them because they would feel silly playing with them by themselves,” Tony says with a laugh.
While it may seem obvious how the store got its name, there is a story behind that. According to Tony, the two would be out looking for toys and, it being summer, wearing tank tops that showed off their tattoos. One time, someone dubbed them “the tatted guys.” Then, in a batch of toys, they got two plastic wrestling figurines with tattoos, or “tatted toys.”
“It just matched. We’re like, ‘the tatted toy guys,’ ” Tony says. “How perfect would that be for a store.”
And this whimsical place is not this couple’s only brick-and-mortar business. The Candy Unicornium was set to open at 2 W. High St., Elizabethtown, by Black Friday. The store will feature novelty and retro candy, “a lot of the stuff that people remember that they don’t know is made anymore,” Tony says.
One reason for going into the candy business is the reaction people have had to candy sold in the toy store, like the popular candy cigarettes and Pop Rocks. The couple’s 19-year-old son, Keenan, will help out at the store. Hours will vary.