Mr Mopps’ new owners cut ribbon on reopened toy store

The ribbon about to be cut at the newly reopened Mr Mopps'. Left to right: Chamber of Commerce joint-CEO John DeClercq, Mayor Tom Bates, Mr Mopps' owners Jenny Stevenson and Devin McDonald, Chamber of Commerce joint CEO Polly Armstrong, and councilmember Laurie Capitelli. And, in front, Reuben Lenear. Photos: Tracey Taylor.

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.

Display of toys in the newly refurbished Mr Mopps'.

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.

The new owners of Mr Mopps: Devin McDonald and Jenny 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 new Mr Mopps opened on February 12 and will have its opening party on April 10.

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.

Related:
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]

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  • http://www.yourmomissoberkeley.com Berto

    Correction: McDonald’s father is the musician Country Joe McDonald.

  • http://www.tktaylor.com Tracey Taylor

    Berto: That was a “duh” moment on our part! It’s pretty clear McDonald has a father called McDonald but we slipped up somehow. Thanks for being our copy editor at large!

  • http://www.berkeleyhomes.com/blog Ira Serkes

    I love stories which make me smile. Thanks!

  • http://www.yourmomissoberkeley.com Berto

    Right on Tracey. I’ve been friends with Devin for 30 years and I’ve been thrilled following Berkeleyside’s coverage of this story. I hope to see Berkeleyside, Devin, and Mr. Mopps all thrive for a very long time.

  • Melanie

    Congratulations! I look forward to taking my grandchildren to the same store that so delighted their mother (and of encountering friendly owners who appear to like kids; some of the former proprietors used to intimidate my stepdaughter!).

  • Jayne

    Yippee!

    This makes me happy – and it’s right around the corner from my home!
    xxxx oooo

    Good Luck!

  • Phil

    I’m delighted that Mr. Mopps is going to stay open and hope to see it thrive for a long time!

    I’d love to see the new owners take a page from some of the other smaller toy stores in the area and try to stock items that they can really be passionate and knowledgeable about. The big advantage they have over large retailers and the Internet is that you can go in there and ask questions of the owners and sales staff.

    For some reason, this never worked out for me at the old Mr. Mopps, but Sweet Dreams and Five Little Monkeys seem to have the formula down pretty well.

    Good luck, guys! We’ll be there!

  • Bruce Love

    Who would like to work on starting some toy manufacturing businesses in West Berkerley?

    I see opportunities like:

    A community with many discriminating parents.

    A community with many smart educators and engineers and business people.

    A community with the competence to manage a toy export business well.

    A community with much competence in craft skills.

    An era in which CNC and 3D printing and similar automation exponentially extends the reach of light manufacturing in bang for buck terms — combined with the only modest precision requirements of a lot of toys.

    A community that might be amenable to an “open source” approach wherein Berkeley exports not only toys but the ideas behind them.

  • Bruce Love

    Smart ways and dumb ways to do that (Berkeley as toy exporter). If the business plan concentrated on the generic manufacturing capabilities – e.g., the computer controlled stuff – then it makes sense to factor those capabilities out into separate businesses or business units and have a system of close partnerships. The idea is to avoid having the expensive machines limited to a single line of products. Instead, you want the expensive machines to be a “platform” which Berkeley-based entrepreneurs rent. The expensive machines are a separate business just like printers are different from publishers.

  • Joan

    So happy Mr. Mopps is still alive and well. It had not prospered under the previous owners as it had with the original owners and had lost much of its enchantment–although my son, who grew up in Berkeley two blocks from Mr. Mopps, has said, when he visits from New Jersey and takes his children there, that there’s no other toy store like it. May it shine even brighter!

  • Tom Brody

    I first went into Mr.Mopps, perhaps in the year 1973.   That was a long time ago.   But in the years 1996 to the present, I have been going into Mr.Mopps on a regular basis.  I was wondering what the new shop would be like.  The store no longer has the large back room containing books, science projects, and elegant puppets and marionettes.   But I guess that this cutback couldn’t be helped.  I also noticed that my favorite thing, the large collection of elegant European farm animal statues, formerly located behind the front counter, has shrunk to only a handful of animals.  I believe that the manufacturer is in Germany.   But this is not my reason for writing.  Yesterday, I was speaking with the “clerk” who told me that the new owner is Devin, son of Country Joe McDonald.   When he said this, I stated that I saw Country Joe and the Fish performing in Golden Gate Park in 1968, and that my spouse and I are great fans of Country Joe and the Fish.  And now (the next day), I did my homework and discovered that this “clerk” was actually Devin McDonald.  I am impressed by Mr.McDonald’s modesty.  Long live Mr.Mopps.