When word got out through a Berkeleyside article that Mr. Mopps’, the venerable Berkeley toy store, might be going out of business, loyal customers immediately started to mourn. They filled the Berkeleyside comments section with memories of the past and regret that their children wouldn’t get to enjoys the store’s eclectic selection of toys and books.
Some fans were so concerned that they formed a new Facebook fan page “Let’s Buy Mr. Mopps.” It now has 190 fans.
The Berkeleyside post also prompted people to call Eugene Yamashita, the store’s owner, to ask him about buying the business. Those calls pushed Yamashita to hire realtor Jeff Auen to handle the sale of both the Mr. Mopps’ business and Yamashita’s real estate holdings on Martin Luther King Way. Yamashita owns the building on the corner of MLK and Rose, which includes Mr. Mopps’ and a hair salon, and building further down the street holding an antique store.
The catch is that anyone who wants to buy the toy store now has to buy the building, according to Auen. Yamashita will not be able to offer a lease to any new owner of the toy store. So far, at least three people have approached him about buying the business.
“He’s old,” Auen said of Yamashita. “His wife is getting on in age, too. He’s caught between the store and his wife. He wants to liquidate everything.”
No price has yet been set on the building or the business, but they should be set within the next two weeks, said Auen. The toy business grosses more than $650,000 a year, he said. There is a good chance that the building housing the toy store and hair salon will be put on the market for more than $1 million.
Auen said interested buyers should contact him. He also had some ideas on how to make the purchase affordable, using a loan from the Small Business Association.
In the meantime, Yamashita is giving up his lease on a rented portion of the store that holds books. That section should close within a month, said Auen. For sale signs will soon go up on the front of the store.