Mr Mopps’, which has been selling toys in Berkeley since 1962, reopened for business last week after being bought by new owners in October just before the venerable store looked like it might be going out of business for good.
On Friday February 18, the new owners, Devin McDonald and Jenny Stevenson, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the store, which was attended by Mayor Tom Bates, councilmember Laurie Capitelli, and the Chamber of Commerce’s newly elected joint CEOs, Polly Armstrong and John DeClercq, among others.
McDonald and Stevenson say their new venture is going well. They have spent the past month refurbishing the large store — the walls and ceiling are now all painted a bright sky blue — and stocking up. “We’ve been putting in a lot of orders,” said McDonald. “We want to fill it up so it’s bursting at the seams,” added Stevenson. “Mr Mopps’ was famous for being stuffed with goodies.”
The couple, who have no previous retail experience — McDonald’s father is the musician Country Joe McDonald, whose songs with Country Joe and the Fish became the unofficial anthems of the anti-war movement — admitted that, although most of the work was pretty “intuitive”, they had stumbled on some minor details. “When we opened for the first time we realized we had no small change in the store which was a bit of a problem,” said Stevenson.
McDonald first learned that Mr Mopps’ might be closing from an article he read on Berkeleyside in April. The store’s owner, Eugene Yamashita, had been trying without luck to sell the business, and had decided to shutter the store.
The news surprised and dismayed hundreds of people who had spent time in the toy store and many of them rallied to keep it open. Many Berkeleyside readers shared their memories of the store in the Comments section and the story went viral — accumulating an astonishing 911 Facebook “Likes”. It wasn’t long before a “Let’s Buy Mr. Mopps’”page was formed on Facebook.
Stevenson and McDonald are planning a grand opening party on April 10. “We hope everyone will come,” they said.
Thanks from Mr Mopps’ [10.25.10]
Berkeley couple buy Mr Mopps’ toy store [10.15.10]
Mr Mopps’ toy store formally on the market [06.09.10]
Buyers circling Mr Mopps’ [04.10.10]
Mr Mopps, Berkeley’s beloved toy store, is closing [03.24.10]