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Palo Alto Sport Shop and Toy World faces uncertain future

Original post made on Jan 20, 2017

Plans are underway to sell a historic building that houses Palo Alto Sport Shop and Toy World, a downtown destination for the past 87 years.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 20, 2017, 8:49 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2017 at 10:35 am

This is sad news and I hope they find a new location. It will be sorely missed.

Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2017 at 10:36 am

Though I enjoy this toy store, I'll admit that's mainly for convenience. Most of the plastic sand toys at Johnson and Heritage parks are replenished here, as well as the sort of coloring books that shipping doubles the price of on Amazon Prime. But a store in Palo Alto can't survive on that alone.

Posted by JUlie Armitano
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 20, 2017 at 10:56 am

I will miss it a lot.
I enjoy the store a lot.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

I was afraid this day was coming, but I hope Palo Alto Toy and Sport manages to stay in town. Please consider midtown or south Palo Alto! The House of Bagels is thriving in it's new location in Edgewood Plaza.

Posted by Stu Berman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:13 am

My son graduated from college almost two years ago now, but I have fond memories of the years perusing the aisles and buying soccer shoes there with him. He got his first pair at age 7 and I remember that the store was kind enough to begin stocking Diadora cleats, my favorite brand.

My son made many exciting and well considered purchases there. What a loss for the community. I will be so sad to see the store go.

Posted by Tony B.
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

As Palo Alto Sport Shop goes, so do other restaurants and small shops that disappear from Palo Alto, as greedy landlords fleece the pockets of the small business person. Palo Alto has become even more elitist and has changed dramatically, albeit not for the better, in the last forty years. The small business person is the backbone of this country and struggle mightily to make a livelihood for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, we won't see any change to this situation, as small business owners and restauranteurs will bypass Palo Alto altogether and open their enterprises in adjacent communities, or in more far-flung locales with lower overhead, that will value and support new, locally-owned businesses.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:52 am

There is nothing uncertain about their future. They will most certainly be going out of business.

Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 20, 2017 at 12:43 pm

jh is a registered user.

I think that section of street may not be covered by the city's retail protection and can be replaced with much more profitable offices.

As vice mayor Liz Kniss stated during a fairly recent council discussion of how to protect a critical mass of retail to bring in shoppers, she did not see any reason to place any further restrictions on property owners than those already in place. This was based on a recent walk down University Avenue where retail appears to be doing well, so there is no need to get any further involved. Of course, this short-sighted attitude ignores that once small retail business are gone and you lose critical mass it's too late.

In the case of Waverley Street, if a retail-like business is required, it can turn into a personal training gym, like the one now occupying a large frontage on California Avenue whose large retail windows are mostly dark and uninviting and, unlike the yoga studio further up the street, has no retail whatsoever to attract the public.

Posted by Five Generations
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Our family probably walked in the store the day you opened!
Please don't close! Or move!
Many decades of fond memories.
This town's latest generation has been throwing away what makes Palo Alto charming and special. Shame on those that love snow flakes over mortar. No, the community changes have not been in the right direction for those thinking they have!

Posted by Be positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Be positive is a registered user.

What are the changes that the "rules and regulations" required by the City that would need to be made and would cause the building to close for renovations?

Posted by Deep Sigh
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Deep Sigh is a registered user.

Palo Alto grows more bland, cold, unattractive, unfriendly and unwelcoming by the week.

Landlords are allowed to triple or even quadruple rents with little notice.

Unmitigated growth combined with unmitigated greed have made Palo Alto mean, ugly, crowded and dirty.

Never thought this possible twenty years ago!

Posted by Chrisc
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Good luck to people buying swimsuits online or getting the correct pop in prescription lenses for swim goggles. Where else are there the variety of swimming paraphernalia? I'll miss it.

Posted by Susan
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:01 pm

Toy World delivered my first two-wheeler during my birthday party (just as the little red trolley pulled up--remember THAT?) 60 years ago. And oh, the thrill of red-and-white striped packages with curly red ribbon and the beautiful dolls in the glass case--the stuff of dreams! Selling? Moving? Talk about "American carnage."

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2017 at 3:47 am

Sad there giving up .I still have my glove I purchased with my dad at pa sport .purchased in 198o.this store is a beatiful classic store.there will never be a store like it again.people need to support your local toy store.have a fundraiser to keep it many years it can stay open and give joy to many families.ed keep it going don't give up.

Posted by best swim gear service
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 21, 2017 at 2:51 pm

They are such a great customer service based swim gear shopping experience.
Thank so much for being a great part of the community!

Posted by Huh
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I totally do not get this article at all. If I'm reading it right, the owner of the building and the store can not make it at that location, paying zero rent. That means his expenses are his employees and taxes.

If he does in fact own the building, and has his store in there rent free, and he can't make it there, then either he is doing something terribly wrong with his merchandise or no toy store/swim shop can survive downtown.

I was just in there today, and noticed the second floor where the swim store used to be is now downstairs with the toys. And the selection of toys looked like everything good had been sold and just left overs remained.

I loved the store, but found it very expensive in the past, and would come when there was a sale going on. It was by far the most fantastic swim store in the area.

President Trump has just taken over, so business killing and building expansion regulations are getting slashed and business taxes are getting reduced. It may be too little, too late for this beloved store, and may not have much of an impact in Taxifornia or Palo Alto. Pity

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2017 at 6:43 pm


Hoffacker owns the building and the toy store business.

The main takeaway from the article is that the city is requiring property upgrades and he does not believe that he can cover those costs while moving the sports store business away for 2+ years to another location.

We don't know the store's financials but the article implies that it is less profitable today because of online competition, a similar fate that has befallen many bricks-and-mortar business in the area -- not just Palo Alto. A couple of examples would be Stacey's Bookstore and Congdon & Crome.

Thus, Hoffacker has a business operation with declining revenue and increasing costs (rent/payroll/etc.) and it makes more fiscal sense to sell the property at a profit and use some of those proceeds to hopefully re-establish the business elsewhere (hopefully nearby).

As far as I can tell, partisan politics has nothing to do with the toy store's current situation. It appears to be a confluence of largely business related factors that is prompting the change.

Posted by The usual suspects
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 21, 2017 at 8:51 pm

Deep sigh- if that were the case people would be fleeing Palo Alto in droves. And your comments regarding landlords are irrelevant- the store pays no rent. Very easy forthe usual posters to call others " greedy"

Posted by Old timer
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 23, 2017 at 6:36 am

Palo Alto Sport Shop sponsored my Babe Ruth team in the 70's. Great times, fond memories. All good things come to an end. Thanks for all you've done for the community Sport Shop.

Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

Start serving overpriced coffee, change your name to "Toys 4 Tolerance" and claim you are out to change the world... You will stay in business.

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