AUSTIN (KXAN)— It’s just time. That’s the short answer if you ask Anna Barr, the owner of Anna’s Toy Depot, about why she’s closing it down after more than 30 years in business.
Barr has lived in the Austin area her entire life and has owned and managed her toy shop at five different locations along South Lamar Boulevard. She opened her second-to-last toy shop across from Matt’s El Rancho in the early 2000s. Barr said she was there for 19 years.
With commercial rent prices rising, coupled with struggles during the pandemic, Barr decided to relocate her shop to the Brodie Oaks Shopping Center farther south on South Lamar.
As you hear the whimsical Christmas tunes at Anna’s Toy Depot, for some, the sounds are bittersweet. It serves as a reminder this will be its final holiday season.
“It doesn’t hit you until it hits you,” store employee Hector Moody said.
Moody has worked at Anna’s Toy Depot for a decade.
“I kind of started as a customer here,” Moody said. “I used to bug Anna all the time. I’d come in quite a bit. And one day, she goes, ‘You know, would you like to work here?'”
On Wednesday, some of his favorite long-time customers stopped by to say their final goodbyes.
“This was my first toy store I ever came to,” Asai, a 9-year-old boy, said.
Barr started selling and buying used toys right when she graduated college. And the business took off. Now, she feels ready to close her doors.
“I feel like I’m about to graduate from high school, and I’ve been in high school for 33 years,” Barr said. “I’m surprised that it has lasted this long.”
The Brodie Oaks Strip Mall is likely getting knocked down to make room for new development.
“I knew when I moved here that this place was going to be developed,” Barr said. “I knew I didn’t have a lot of years left in me.”
Barr admits rising rent prices coupled with a pandemic led her to a quicker retirement. But she wouldn’t change a thing. She loves her hometown and is excited about its strides as a community.
“The kids that have grown up here, I love you,” Barr said.
As the final toys make their way off the shelves, perhaps the magic and impact on this community will remain.
“I’m going to miss it,” Moody said.
To celebrate the business’ success — and as a goodbye to the Austin community — Anna’s toy shop has marked everything to 50% off.
Brodie Oaks development
The Brodie Oaks planned unit development would transform the shopping center near South Lamar Boulevard and Loop 360 into a small skyline.
The 40 acres includes 1,700 hundred residential units, an Imagine Austin Activity Center, three parks and a trailhead for the Barton Creek Greenbelt, according to the developers. There will also be hotel and retail space.