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Toy store coming downtown

Tom Jones is the new owner of 5 N. Washington St. in downtown Oxford. (click for larger version)
June 23, 2010 - One of downtown Oxford's vacant buildings has a brand new owner that plans to fill it with not one, but two businesses.

Lake Orion resident Tom Jones (no, not the singer) is the proud owner of the 3,800-square-foot, two-story building located at 5 N. Washington St., next door to the Northeast Oakland Historical Museum.

"Downtown Oxford is a charming downtown area," he said. "It has foot traffic and it also has about 35,000 cars a day that go by."

Jones, who paid $225,000 for the building, plans to open a store on the main floor called "Funky Monkey Toys."

"It's going to be what we call a specialty toy store," he said.

The store, expected to open in early August, will sell classic toys, wooden toys, educational toys, green toys, games and puzzles as well as larger items such as kitchen sets, train sets and doll houses.

"It's all high quality. A lot of the toys are hand-crafted," Jones said.

The toys will come from the United States and European countries like Germany, England and Sweden.

Jones promises all of his toys will be unique and "off-the-beaten-path."

"Most of the toys will not be available at the big box stores like Wal-Mart, Meijer and Target," he explained. "Lots of them are from individual toy-makers that specialize in wooden toys."

Those seeking action figures, mass-produced toys associated with movies and vision shows, or video and electronic games will not find any of them at Funky Monkey Toys.

Jones proudly boasts that all of his toys will be "analog."

Once Funky Monkey Toys is up and running, Jones plans to host activities – such as birthday parties, art classes and puppet shows – both inside his store and throughout the community.

His store will employ about three or four part-time people to start with and as business progresses, the staff will increase to five or six part-timers. He will be working full-time at the store.

Those interested in learning more about the store can visit Jones at the downtown Farmers' Market held in the northwest parking lot every Thursday from 2 p.m. until dusk.

Now through Aug. 1, Jones has a couple of tables set up at the weekly market featuring a small selection of toys.

Jones' venture into the toy industry was precipitated by Michigan's shrinking auto industry. When his former employer, Audi of America, decided to relocate to Virginia, he decided to stay here

Jones is looking forward to his new career as Oxford's toy man. "I've always been fascinated by toys," he said. "It's sort of a hobby of mine."

Jones won't be alone in his new building.

He's rented the two spaces on the second floor to LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications, Inc.

Based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the full-service agency creates communications, marketing and training for corporations with dealer networks such as Ferrari, Volkswagen Group of America, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Audi of America, Evinrude and Bombardier Recreational Products.

LaBov & Beyond is planning to relocate its Michigan satellite office from Auburn Hills to downtown Oxford in July.

The Oxford office will be staffed by four employees.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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