By Hollie Grace James
Many community members are lamenting the loss of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s, a beloved local toy store, that closed after 43 years in the capital.
The Westboro location shut its doors at 315 Richmond Road on Feb. 29 followed quickly by the original location in the Glebe at 809 Bank Street on March 20.
Owner Maida Anisman and her son Simon, who was heavily involved in the daily operations, cited the reason for closure as “changing economic times.”
Maida, “a fun and quirky lady” according to Simon, opened Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s in 1977, selling antique toys. While the business expanded to multiple locations, the eclectic atmosphere continued to be reflected in the store’s offerings. With an anti-violence policy, toys remained traditional. Those interested in electronics — like Nintendo or computer-driven toys, like Tamagotchi — were hard-pressed to find such things there. Simon reminisced about his mother’s firm stance on how her business was run.
“She never sold Barbies. GI Joe never made it into the store. I grew up very much wanting to play with GI Joes but they weren’t available to me,” he said.
The toy store was a core component of his upbringing. The Bank Street location opened the same year that 42-year-old Simon was born.
“Our lives revolved around my mom working and making it work and everything that went along with being independent owners back in the day,” he explained about the unique upbringing of himself and his two siblings.
But don’t think for a second that it was all work and no play. There were certainly perks, he said regarding his job as toy tester.
“It could have been way worse,” he said. “Out of all the things she could have owned, I have no complaints.”
Simon’s passion for the world of toys continued into his adult years. He spearheaded Tiggy’s sister company Lost Marbles, a toy store geared towards “the big kid.” The standalone location opened in Westboro almost twenty years ago and the Anismans went on to add a Tiggy’s next door a few years later.
Having a front row seat to many toy trends throughout the years, Simon admits that there were some terrible ones, citing the fidget spinner as a prime example.
“I didn’t like any trends where people lost sight of what was actually interesting and neat,” he said.
To this day, he remains passionate about bringing genuine playability and joy to the world. He doesn’t like to see consumers acquiring something just for the sake of having it, which he said remains prevalent in most big box stores.
Although larger competitors aren’t necessarily to blame, he admits that they just couldn’t compete with online retailers, who sell the very same products for a fraction of the price. Simon credited the community as the reason that the business successfully ran for as long as it did.
“The problem is that it’s a little bit here, and a little bit there and a lot to online,” he said. “It was expected, but I feel like it happened quicker than anyone imagined. That doesn’t surprise me though, when Amazon is building warehouses like they built here.”
The future remains uncertain for Simon, and it’s been a difficult time for the Anismans, but he still sees the brighter side.
“I look at it more as 43 years that my mom was in business. It’s such an achievement for her. It was such a great run, most businesses don’t get half that time,” he said.