The Suburbanite
  • Postcard from ... Canal Fulton: Finding lost memories

  • The Toys Time Forgot store in Canal Fulton is not just a shop for old-fashioned playthings. It’s a place where memories are stored until they are discovered by the minds that remember them.

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  • The Toys Time Forgot store in Canal Fulton is not just a shop for old-fashioned playthings. It’s a place where memories are stored until they are discovered by the minds that remember them.
    “This is mainly collectibles but actually it’s all memories,” said Dan Hare, who has owned the business at different locations in Canal Fulton for 23 years. “People played with things here and they remember them. What we have here is comfort food. You can buy a toy from your childhood.”
    Cases display Chatty Cathy dolls and GI Joe figures. Racks organize Matchbox cars. Model car kits are grouped by their makers. Stuffed Sesame Street characters wait to be handled. Star Wars spaceships “fly” at the highest points of the store’s showroom. Hundreds of board games are stacked on shelves.
    “If you don’t find what you want, I have 1,500 more games in the basement,” Hare says.
    He notes that there are 160 file drawers in the store, and each holds 250 to 300 comic books. Figurines from the comics — Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and dozens of other super-heroes — cover the top of the cabinets.
    “I just found a No. 4 Batman,” said Hare with the kind of enthusiasm that indicates it is not for sale. Separating his merchandise from his collection is difficult, sometimes, he admits with a laugh. “What you see here is only a third of what I own.”
    Hare, a man with two engineering degrees, gave up that career more than two decades ago. He had been collecting vintage toys for years, planning to start the store in retirement. He opened the establishment years earlier than expected with support of his wife, Sue, who also is an engineer.
    “Everybody else thought I was nuts,” Hare smiled. “My wife said even if it didn’t work out she would love me. But she said, ‘Please make it work because I want my basement back ...’ ”
    The couple’s sons — Joshua, Jarod and Jacob — all work in the store. Hare’s wife helps out, as does Joshua’s wife, Kelly, for special events. “It’s very much a family thing,” said Hare, whose employees, store manager Jason Limbach and toy technician Fred Collington, both have been with the business for years.
    Past employees come back to shop, said Hare.
    “We’ve had kids who came in and bought a toy here, then worked for me, got married and had kids, and now they’re coming in to buy toys for those kids,” said Hare, who meets and greets customers continually through his day.
    Those customers, especially the younger ones, call Hare “Dan the Toy Man.” He is their expert on old toys — the hunter of their cherished memories.
    “I have the names of 5,000 people who are looking for something,” said Hare, who both buys and sells toys from the past. “When I find what they want, I give them a call.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Christmas is a busy season, as might be expected. Visitors to the store search for gifts that might touch their loved ones.
    Jennifer Porter of North Lawrence and Christine Lamborn of Massillon were on just such a quest one recent day.
    “I had all these toys, Porter noted, feasting her eyes on a case full of Barbie dolls. “They have everything here,” added Lamborn.
    Well, not everything. But Hare fits in a multitude of items, with many toys hanging from the ceiling or lining walls.
    “I didn’t want to limit myself to high-dollar collectibles,” he said. “I have collectibles in here that are worth thousands of dollars and I have collectibles that are priced at $1 or $2.”
    So the clientele of The Toys Time Forgot becomes a mixture of collectors and what Hare calls “future collectors.” These are his kindred spirits, he knows, and he loves finding the toys that were lost somehow since their youth.
    “My wife once told me, ‘Can you imagine how many lives you’ve touched,’ ” explained Hare. “This is my passion. I love doing it. My day off is Monday. I love Tuesday, when I come in and play.”

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