Steve Shelton’s office may be a child’s dream. The small space is crammed with rubber ducks and squirt guns. Boxes of unopened knickknacks reach from floor to ceiling. As if the toys aren’t enough, a box of gourmet chocolate sits on the floor.
“Should I go taste-test this chocolate or should I test this water gun? Should I fly this helicopter or play this game so we can give it a review?” Shelton said. “It’s a tough job.”
In reality, Shelton, a USU alumnus and owner of Magical Moon Toys, has a job that never ends. Being a small business owner in a small town is a seven-days-a-week job, one that makes for many sleepless nights, he said.
“When you eat drink and sleep your business for so long … I can’t imagine life without it. I figure I’ll do my sleeping when I’m dead,” he said.
As customer Adesa Cox eyed the shelves of Magical Moon, she points to a make your own gum kit.
“How cool is that?” she said.
Cox, a preschool teacher at Bear River Head Start, makes the 30-minute drive from Brigham City to visit the store a few times a year. When looking for specialty items like circuit boards and numeral dice, no one has selection quite as wide, she said.
“There are lots of interesting little things, odds and ends I can’t find anywhere else,” Cox said. “Really for the science stuff, there’s really nowhere else to get it. It gives that little extra that I’m grateful is around.”
Since Shelton bought Magical Moon Toys nine years ago, the inventory, which houses everything from hand-made marbles to a rare collection of Playmobil sets, has soared from 2,000 to 20,000. Shelton said he’s expanded the store to include more than 1,000 games, a division of sweets and an activity center for kids.
After Easter, the store will relocate from it’s current position behind Walmart to the Piano Gallery on Main Street. The new location will nearly double the size of the store. The new store will offer a mini-ice cream parlor, a Build-A-Bear wing, and a miners’ town where kids can pan for pyrite in a sluice.
“I can go though a laundry list of toys that have had meaningful impacts in my life,” Shelton said. “Knowing what toys do for kids, what they did for me, that’s something I always wanted to be a part of.”
For those not in the market for toys, Magical Moon is also in the business of sweets. Shelton, who calls himself a “closet chocolatier,” owns the equipment to make anything from dipped Cinnamon Bears to chocolate covered Cheetos and Potato Chips, two of his best-selling items. The candy business has taken off so much that Shelton opened a separate candy business, PeeWee’s Sweets, located on Main Street, last June.
Shelton traces his love for toys to his roots in California, where as a 7-year-old, he saw Star Wars for the first time.
“Seeing that on a big screen, in a drive-in movie theater was beyond real,” he said. “I remember going to Bob’s Big Boy for dinner one night shortly after that, and sitting in the waiting room.
There was a kid with a Kenner X-wing fighter toy. I have never in my life coveted anything as much as I did that kid’s toy. I remember so distinctly. It took a while, but I actually got one. I still have it today.”
Moving from Seattle in 2003, Shelton left a publications job working with clients like Sears, Nordstrom and REI Sports for the toy business. He said he loved the job, not to mention the five figure bonus structure, but in the end he wanted to be in business for himself. Even though he’s making only a fragment of what he was, the toy lover said it’s worth it.
“I’m not going to get rich off of this by any means,” he said. “The big payoff comes when a kid comes in the door and he’s been saving up all summer to get one particular item. They come in and open up their mason jar, taking out pennies and nickels and quarters and wadded up dollar bills to get this item they want, and they’re beaming from ear to ear. That’s what I do it for.”
As Rhea Smith and Kendall Gurley, mother and daughter, wandered down an aisle of Magical Moon, Gurley inspected a selection of glass animal figurines no bigger than a fingernail. Smith, her arms full of Easter toys for her grandchildren, shifted her load to get a closer look.
“You find things here you wouldn’t find in other places,” Smith said. “If you want something unique for your children or your grandchildren this is where you come.”
Although Smith frequents the store, it is her daughter’s first time.
“It’s a novelty toy store,” Gurley said. “I’m 25 and I like it.”