Popular locally-owned toy store set to close up shop
WATCH ABOVE: The Science Shop in Southgate Centre will soon close its doors after 20 years in Edmonton. It may sound like a familiar fate: a local retailer unable to keep up with the competition. But as Kent Morrison reports, this story is a bit different.
EDMONTON — After 20 years of business in Edmonton, a popular science-themed toy store is closing its doors.
The Science Shop in Southgate Centre is holding a “closing forever sale,” ahead of its mid-February closing date. The husband-and-wife team that has owned the toy store for two decades say it’s time to put their feet up and retire.
“It just got the point where we’re getting old and it’s time to relax. So we thought, let’s just shut it down,” said Glen Blundell.
Glen and his wife, Elaine, opened The Science Shop after Glen retired from working on the railroad. And while they say it’s been hard at times to keep up with big box stores and consumers shifting to internet shopping, they managed to find their niche in the toy market.
“We tried to differentiate ourselves from the mass market-type of toy store, so we tried to carry stuff that was different, as much as we could, with a bit of a science theme to it,” said Glen.
That’s the key to building a successful, locally-owned business these days, according to one marketing expert.
“Like you had to 100 years ago, you have to differentiate yourself. You have to offer something that the Walmarts and Toys R Us and Targets of the world can’t,” said Kyle Murray, the director of the School of Retail at the University of Alberta.
“It’s a tough market,” said Glen. “For sure it’s a challenge, but if you do your homework and you do things right you can still have a successful business.”
And that’s exactly what the Blundells have done for the past 20 years. As they look forward to retirement, which will involve travelling and spending time with their children and grandchildren, Glen and Elaine can’t help but have mixed emotions about it all.
“It’ll be hard,” said Elaine. “We’ve enjoyed what we’ve been doing … it’s hard to say goodbye to all that.”
“It’s going to be emotional, for sure,” added Glen, holding back tears. “But on the other hand, it’s a new chapter in our life that’s opening up and we’re looking forward to that too.”
The Science Shop will officially close its doors on Feb. 15.
With files from Kent Morrison, Global News.
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