Jeffrey’s Toys is the oldest toy store in San Francisco. Founded in 1938 as Birdie’s Variety Store, is has been owned and operated by the same family for four generations, at one point expanded to seven stores in the area, and even inspired Pixar’s “Toy Story.” But now it’s closing thanks to the rampant crime in San Francisco and the disastrous effects of inflation.
Such is what Jeffrey’s Toys announced on Friday, January 26, saying that it will have to close at the end of February because of various issues, namely the pervasive crime in San Francisco, declining consumer spending on retail, and painful inflation.
Describing its background and storied history on its website’s “About” page, Jeffrey’s Toys notes, “Jeffrey’s Toys, the oldest toy store in San Francisco, began as a five & dime variety store in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1938. It was called Birdie’s Variety store, named after Birdie Luhn. The store was small, but sold everything from housewares, hardware, records and even toys. After WW2, the US experienced a baby boom and everyone wanted toys! So Birdie, and her husband Morton, transformed their little variety store to Birdie’s Toy House in 1953, selling only toys! Along with the thousands of servicemen returning home after the war, so did Morton and Birdie’s two sons, Manny and Joel. Manny and Joel soon joined the family business, and the toy stores grew in number. The toy store locations now included, Hayward, Berkeley, San Leandro, and Oakland! In 1966, Birdie’s Toy House was renamed Jeffrey’s Toys, after Manny and Mildy’s youngest son, Jeff, and opened four stores in San Francisco. Decades later, the Luhn family still owns and operates Jeffrey’s Toys at 45 Kearny Street in San Francisco!”
But now that’s over, as Sterling Venture Law, its law firm, announced on behalf of Jeffrey’s Toys to the media. The firm said, “After 75 years of gratefully serving the San Francisco community, the store will be closing next month. The store has been struggling for a number of years, due to the perils and violence of the downtown environment, inflation, the decrease in consumer spending and the demise of retail across the world.”
Continuing, the firm noted, “The family is saddened it has come to this and we’ve explored all other options to try and keep the business going. The leadership of the City of San Francisco and the Downtown Association have their work cut out for them on how to revitalize what was once a vibrant and fun downtown experience. We are working through this complex situation with the landlords and creditors and at this time, I’ve advised my clients to not be interviewed by the press.“
Rosie Luhn, a member of the Luhn family which has run the store for decades, told the San Francisco Business Times, “We’re heartbroken. We held on until we can’t anymore. Everyone left the city. San Francisco always comes back but it will probably take another three years.”
And, in a Facebook post announcing a last major sale before the storefront closes, Jeffrey’s Toys advertised “30% off” on “All Full Price Items.” The caption said, “It’s that time… All things must GO. As we make our way to the Finish Line (in a couple weeks) we want to Thank ALL of you wonderful people who’ve been a part of Jeffereys Family.”
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