Talbot’s Toyland Closing: One Last Look After Sixty-Six Years

This post is an epilogue to my previous post on the closing of our local toy and hobby store, Talbot’s Toyland. Sadly, the store’s demise comes after sixty-six years as one of San Mateo’s finest establishments, located since its opening in 1953 at the downtown corner of B Street and Fifth Avenue. Read my post from January 18, 2020 for background to the story.

Last Sunday, Linda and I were visiting our daughter and her family in San Mateo, California, the town north of here where I spent my teen-age years. As described in my previous post, two downtown San Mateo stores were my go-to places for all things in the hobby/toy category: Hobby Haven and Talbot’s Toyland.

Hobby Haven is long gone, although the historic Wisnom Building, erected in 1907 by one of San Mateo’s founding fathers, remains virtually unchanged today. Hobby Haven resided there for close to a decade, dating from 1953. Today, after serving many varied occupants over its one-hundred and twelve years, the venerable old building houses a Sushi restaurant!

Last Sunday, after saying goodbye to our daughter and her family, we traveled to
San Mateo’s downtown with two purposes in mind: to browse at B Street Books and to take one last look at Talbot’s before its doors closed forever. Immediately upon entering the familiar front door of the store, I was confronted with the sad reality. This venerable toy store, which, for all of its sixty-six years was brimming with the finest toys available, was now a mere shell of its former self.

The many shelves and glass display cabinets that were part of the store’s long history were now either bare or gone entirely from the premises. There were a number of last-minute shoppers in the store looking for a closing sale bargain, and there were also folks with cameras there for just one last look at downtown San Mateo’s iconic toy store – folks just like me.

Formerly the “doll corridor,” lined with brightly-lit display cases

As far as I could discern, there was little left of value to the last shoppers except for some huge stuffed animals which would require buyers with fat wallets and large homes. Apparently, the huge dinosaur inside the front door was not for sale! Good luck to the tiger and the buffalo in finding a suitable home.

For those of us who are old enough and fortunate enough to have literally “grown up” since 1953 with fond memories of Talbot’s and the downtown of yester-year, the closing of this wonderful toy and hobby store is closely akin to losing a dear family member. Indeed, the life cycle of such stores reminds us that, no matter how noble the enterprise or the individual, we are all only booked, here, for a limited engagement

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