Community is Coming Together to Try and Save the Toy Store, Happy Up, Inc.

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The popular toy store has til 5 PM on Friday March 15th to raise $75,000

Save the Toy Store

Terry-Gates says, I have great memories of shopping at Once Upon A Toy when I was young; I want the same memories for my three children

In an e-mail featuring adorable, yet worried-looking, cartoon monsters, community members were notified that the locally owned toy store, Once Upon A Toy, was on the verge of bankruptcy and would be closing their doors. An outpouring of support for store and its’ owners, husband and wife Rick Harmon and Shawnta’ Ray, went viral.

Seeing the need to rally community support, Once Upon A Toy customer, Heather Browning, created a Facebook page with the hope of finding a way to save the only specialty retail toy store in the Metro East. Currently there are over 3,000 members of the page and that number continues to grow.

It was on that page that Edwardsville resident, Steve Hartman, suggested the idea of collecting contributions to save the town’s beloved toy store.

Taking the lead on the “Save the Toy Store” contribution campaign, Emily Terry-Gates did research to determine the most effective way to host a fundraiser of this magnitude with lawful and successful results. Terry-Gates says, “I have great memories of shopping at Once Upon A Toy when I was young; I want the same memories for my three children.” Terry-Gates and Ray are also long-time friends, “I have known Shawnta’ since high school. She is the type of person that will help anyone in need. I just felt like I could do this for her and her family.”

The campaign was launched using an on-line fundraising site, Crowdtilt. In less than 24 hours after the launch, more than $25,000 had been pledged toward the $75,000 goal. Residents of Edwardsville, IL (population 25,000) and friends of Once Upon A Toy have shown just how passionate they are about saving a toy store that has been a fixture of the community since 1987. “I am so touched when I see the list of donors. I recognize the names of customers, vendors, and friends. I get tears in my eyes when I see the names of my young customers, they must be donating their allowance,” says Ray. The bank is willing to reinstate the loan and work with the owners of Once Upon A Toy based on the evidence of the community’s outpour of support. Of the bank, Ray says “The bank acknowledges that we have done our best in this economy. We have worked hard to align our business plan and inventory with the economic climate and the newest craze. We will continue to keep our pulse on the hottest toys, games and gadgets while working to arrange our budget and plans to most benefit the bottom line.” Ray and her toy store staff are not afraid of the hard work that lies ahead. Because $75,000 is only the tip of the iceberg, the campaign will continue after that goal is reached. However, if the goal is not met by Friday, the effort will be cancelled due to the timeline of the liquidation. “It’s a lofty goal, we realize that. And, a small community raising funds to rescue a toy store from bankruptcy is unprecedented.

However, I believe we will reach our goal and hopefully exceed it. The economy has taken its’ toll on most households and businesses over the past few years; it is great to see people coming together to help save a business from the worst in this economic climate,” says Terry-Gates.
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