Popular toy store closing marks end of an era in Waterbury area

(WTNH / LaSalle Blanks)

WOODBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Gepetto’s Toys is closing soon and it’s tugging on the heartstrings of many people in the Connecticut Valley. The Waterbury-area toy store has meant more than just fun and games for many customers. Over 3 decades, children who came here with their parents are now parents themselves — like Adam Brent.

When he came here as a kid, he had his favorite board game. It still catches his eye on the shelf.

“Parchese,” he said. “That’s the first thing I saw when I came in — just a great board and a great design on the board.”

On Thursday, he was passing on the Gepetto family tradition by bringing his daughter, Hazel, there to pick out a birthday present among the games like Parchese, stuffed teddy bears, books and slinkies.

2017 05 04woodburytoystorecloses2 Popular toy store closing marks end of an era in Waterbury area
(WTNH / LaSalle Blanks)

Adam isn’t the only one who remembers special times with the family at this small jewel in Woodbury.

“My grown daughters are very sad that Gepetto’s is closing,” said Bill Bosch. “They are 34 and 31.”

Bosch says this was his go-to place for Christmas shopping over so many years. The smiles on his girls’ faces Christmas morning assured him that his favorite toy store would always have a special place in his heart and in his family’s hearts.

For him and many others, this is a sad time. But, they also realize it’s a sign of the times. What’s happening to Geppetto’s is happening to many small businesses across the country as technology has lured more shoppers online.

“The passage of time that takes these stores away from us is sad,” Bill said.

The owner of Gepetto’s admits that’s one factor that’s made it more difficult to stay in business in these modern times. Thomas Abbott, the Academic Program Manager for Business Administration and International Business at Post University in nearby Waterbury says what’s happening to Gepetto’s is unfortunately becoming the norm in so many cases in today’s retail world.

“A lot of the smaller retailers are struggling and the whole retail industry is configuring itself differently these days,” Abbott said. “It’s not just happening to smaller businesses, it’s happening to larger ones, too.”

“New factors are coming in. How do I pay for my product — it’s not just money anymore and it’s not just a credit card. The consumers have a whole bunch of different choices that go beyond the product and I think small businesses are in a position where they’ve got to react to that.”

Another new factor — kids like Hazel might be more drawn to video games these days instead of Parchese, much to the dismay of her dad.

“They had a great run,” he said.

The owner of Gepetto’s, Alex DeSorbo says he isn’t exactly sure when Gepetto’s will end its more than 30-year run, but he tells News8 it could be as soon as sometime next week.

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