SNOW HILL – Shoppers can step back in time as they walk through the doors of Snow Hill’s newest business.
After months of renovations, on Friday Toy Town Antiques opened in the town’s long vacant opera house. The store, formerly located in Berlin, attracts antique collectors from all over the country.
“We are so happy,” Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman said. “This building has been vacant 16 years. To see a proven business come out of Berlin to come to Snow Hill, it’s amazing. It’ll be one of our main attractions.”
Richard Seaton, proprietor of Toy Town, said he made the decision to move his shop to Snow Hill last year, knowing that his lease in Berlin was expiring and that Snow Hill was a more affordable alternative. Because Toy Town has a strong base of regular customers, he wasn’t too worried about losing the foot traffic of Berlin.
“I will miss the walk-by traffic but nine out of 10 of them were just lookers,” he said, adding that he expected the traffic associated with the courthouse and government center in Snow Hill to benefit Toy Town. “And if we advertise right we’ll still get people from Ocean City.”
Since September, Seaton has been working to turn the long vacant opera house—twice the size of his old shop—into a usable space. Though expansive, the 9,500-square-foot building needed new flooring, a new ceiling, new plumbing and new wiring, among other things.
“I’ve been working seven days a week for six months,” he said.
The bare cement and brick space passersby have seen in recent years has now been replaced with gleaming hardwood floors and a museum’s worth of antiques. In spite of all the construction work it took to renovate the opera house, Seaton said moving the glass showcases from his Berlin shop into the new space was the most difficult part of the job.
Because of the space he has now, Seaton has set up four displays within Toy Town. Upon entering, customers are greeted with sight of an actual airplane hanging from the ceiling over display cases of antique toy cars in the shop’s transportation room. To the left, the “General Store” offers an array of more household type antiques. To the right lies a mock diner adjacent to the shop’s train room.
“We like to be organized,” Seaton said.
He says customers have been stopping by to see if the shop was open for the past two weeks. Toy Town has a number of clients who visit monthly or even weekly because they know the inventory is constantly changing.
“Once I sell an item I can’t get that same item again,” Seaton said. “There’s nothing here that’s reproduction.”
Everything sold in Toy Town has been handpicked by Seaton, who does not shop at auctions.
“A lot of people bring me stuff and I make house calls,” he said.
After the months of renovations, Seaton is eager to welcome customers to his new shop. Dorman says the rest of the town’s merchants are just as happy to see the shop open.
“All will benefit,” he said. “People will come to see him and walk around. Everyone’s excited to see him in there.”