Peter Sloan, owner of Turner Toys, is preparing to pack all the merchandise at his Essex location for a re-opening in Williston in April. Observer photo by Jason Starr
Longtime Essex retailer plans relocation to Finney Crossing
By Jason Starr
For the first time since Toys ‘R’ Us went under four years ago, Williston has its own toy store.
Turner Toys will fill the last remaining retail spot in the Healthy Living plaza at Finney Crossing. The long-time Essex business, which started as an online-only toy and hobby retailer operating out of the back of a strip mall near the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds, plans to open at Finney Crossing in April.
Owner Peter Sloan has begun planning for the boxing, labeling, moving and unpacking of hundreds of items of all shapes and sizes.
“It’s daunting,” he said.
The store has about 10 different categories of toys for babies through tweens — and even some grown-up kids at heart — from Legos to dolls and stuffed animals, to arts & crafts, model airplanes, trains and educational items.
Sloan bought Turner Toys in 2011 when it was in its online-only phase. He started opening up the doors for walk-ins two years later. The store has moved three times since then, all in Essex, Sloan’s hometown. The current location is at the Essex Shoppes and Cinema (now known as the Essex Experience), where it moved after a stint at Five Corners.
“We took this space, and it was wildly more successful than we expected,” Sloan said. “There seemed to be a lack of toy stores around and everyone was like ‘Wow, thank gosh we finally have a toy store.’”
The closure of the Taft Corners Toys ‘R’ Us in 2018 changed the local toy retail landscape and provided a boost for Turner Toys, Sloan said.
“We’ve been growing year over year tremendously,” he said. “We need more space, so we decided to move to Williston.”
The new location is spacious enough to bring back toy demos and hands-on displays, something Turner Toys used to do before the pandemic. But it was always a tight squeeze in the current store.
“We’re really excited about moving. We are looking forward to having about 30 percent more space,” Sloan said.
He is also looking forward to introducing Turner Toys to a new base of potential customers.
“We’re hoping to keep our existing customers but also to pick up some new ones,” he said. “We’ll be in Williston and easily accessible to Burlington and South Burlington, more so than we are here in Essex,” said Sloan.
Turner Toys will occupy the unit between Healthy Living and H&R Block. With Folino’s pizza and XFinity down the way, the plaza will be fully occupied. Across the street, L.L. Bean’s store is under construction with a summer opening planned.