By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]

The last-minute holiday run to the conventional toy store appears to be a thing of the past since Toys”R”Us closed all its North American stores earlier in 2018. With the retail market saturated by online purchasing or megastores dominating consumer spending, a visit to the department or chain store is a last resort to avoid the perils of procrastination.

One of the 30,000 employees who was affected by the bankruptcy and ultimate closing of the former behemoth toy retailer started his own store and hopes to fill a void in southern Prince George’s County. Glendon Warner, an immigrant from Guyana, is using his business acumen gained from time as a store manager for Toys”R”Us to jumpstart his dream of entrepreneurship by owning a toy store.

A “You & Me Happy Family” action figure set featured at Toys, Babies & More, a new store in Hyattsville, Md. (Courtesy Photo)

Toys, Babies & More, Warner’s foray into toy retail ownership, is housed inside a 1,600 square foot building on Annapolis Road in Hyattsville. He hopes the startup business will succeed in a community where the combination of toys and merchandise for children give residents a place to shop where they live while contributing to the area.

“The community that I’m in doesn’t have anything like a toy store,” Warner told the urban business website BlackShoppe.com.

Warner has worked in some form of retail or service industry since he was 14 years old in Guyana. He started as a gardener then as a salesman for a Suzuki car dealership. The next stop in his professional development was in the restaurant industry where he wore a multitude of hats. At the Royal Castle, part of a major chain of restaurants, he was everything from chef to sales manager, to store manager. As a young employee he was laying the foundation to become a business owner by learning lessons in life through hard work.

“Never think you’re too good to do certain jobs,” Warner told the {AFRO}. “You have to surround yourself with positive people and you must do whatever it takes to make things work when you’re the boss.”

Each of those experiences has formed the corporate DNA that created his business acumen. After coming to America his first retail job was at Sears where he worked five years. There he gained experience beginning as a stockperson but moved into a merchandising supervisor’s position before moving on to Toys”R”Us.

“Presentation is key,” Warner adds. “It’s the little things that make a big difference. Customer service, team-building and presentation are what makes it work.”

Despite its demise and the loss of his job, the model and evolution of the former employer’s business model shaped the way he approached starting Toys, Babies & More. Satisfying parents’ need for a one-stop shop for children’s merchandise was a big consideration for opening his store.

Warner and his family worked collaboratively to bring his dream of entrepreneurship to reality. They sold clothes at a flea market when he was saving money to launch. To stock the store, he still makes pilgrimages to New York’s wholesale merchandise districts to purchase items. Then Warner’s team spends countless time, well beyond store hours, perfecting the displays, taking orders and stressing customer service to visitors and patrons alike.

“There’s a market for a store to be successful in this community, even though big companies get breaks while it’s hard for small businesses to get help when trying to start up,” Warner said.