If you’ve driven down upper De la Vina Street between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, you’ve probably noticed Replay, the used toy and collectible store. Though the uninitiated generally refer to it as “that place with the stuff in front,” if you’ve been in Replay, and if you have a child in your life-or if you are the child in your life-you’re likely the member of a growing and devoted following.
The patron saint, owner, and sole employee of Replay is Greg Kirby, a figure so identified with the place that many parents simply refer to it as “Greg’s.” Greg is the object of widespread adulation largely because he frees customers from their many common struggles regarding toy consumption. Greg sells only used toys and buys them from customers, as well as combing garage sales and thrift stores for merchandise. This means you can buy plastic toys at Replay without worrying they will go straight into a landfill. You can assemble a collection of Chevron cars without supporting Chevron, and though Dora the Explorer and Spider-Man can be found on the shelves, your child will probably pass by advertiser-endorsed characters, blissfully unaware of them in the ever-changing mix. Best of all, if your preschooler falls in love with yet another miniature truck, you can say okay, knowing it costs less than a dollar and Greg will buy it back for as much as half of that.
Parents are in a spot when it comes to toys. On the one hand, our elders bemoan the number of toys our kids go through and regale us with stories of how they used to play with sticks and leaves. On the other hand, child development experts claim IQ is directly related to the number of toys a child owns and the faster your child gets bored with his or her toys-a process known in the literature as “habituation” -the smarter they are. This is just one of the quandaries Replay has eliminated. It also helps parents out of the “re-gifting” quandary. As Erin Lozano put it, “We have gladly used Replay to exchange heartfelt but ‘not-for-our-family’ style gifts.”
It is not simply that Replay helps parents and grandparents avoid what they don’t like, though. For one thing, it offers many items you would never find in a regular toy store, including vintage ones. Whether you grew up with the Lone Ranger, Weebles, or Cabbage Patch Kids, you are likely to stumble on something in the store that will make you feel six years old all over again. Joy Margolis is particularly excited about the complete vintage Fisher-Price airport, just like the one she used to play with, that she found for her son. According to Greg, approximately 25 percent of his business comes from adults buying toys for themselves. Therapists often stock up there on items for sandtray and play therapy.
In addition, Replay carries baby equipment such as strollers, swings, and bouncy-seats. It’s nice to be able to get these items inexpensively, since it’s hard to shell out 30 bucks for a plastic potty when you have no idea whether or not your child will ever agree to sit on it. The store also specializes in large toys and play structures, such as kitchens, jungle gyms, and playhouses-items that would otherwise represent a significant investment and for which you would have to drive to Ventura.
All the toys are less than half what you would pay for them new, and often significantly less, depending on their condition. Most items are much less than 10 dollars. What Greg calls “the really cool toys” are priced between 10 and 15 dollars, and only the large items and collectibles run more. According to Greg, the prices make the store popular not only with young families, but also with grandparents who want to have toys for visiting grandchildren, but who do not want to have to pay a lot for things that will only get played with a few times a year.
Replay has been in business since February 2003. Before that, Greg tested the market by selling toys off a shelf (and then two shelves and then out of a whole cubby) at the Goleta Antiques and Used Furniture Mall. The store is now going strong-with only word of mouth and the toys in front for advertising. This popularity is created in part by Greg’s generosity. Regulars often find that something they are buying “just happens” to be on sale that day, and Replay has been known to donate toys to nonprofit preschools. Greg’s enthusiasm plays a role as well. As he said, “This is the perfect job for me; I love the parents, I love the kids, I love the buying, and I love the selling.” Replay also benefits from its simplicity; since Greg is always there when the store is open, he buys toys constantly and gives cash on the spot, avoiding more complicated credit systems.
Familiarity with Replay definitely grants status in the parenting network. If you find yourself at a playground or family event, talk inevitably turns to toys, and then often to Replay. Parents compare their most impressive “scores” and the frequencies of visits. Shalon Edwards, mother of two, said she is still basking in the glory of having snagged that musical, light-up Cinderella-Barbie carriage complete with dancing horses.
Whole networks have sprung up, with parents spotting toys they know others are in the market for and driving by to check out the toys on the sidewalk. At Replay, you can enjoy the hunt for the chance finding, knowing there will always be something new and interesting. Of course, kids like the place, too. Greg was the first adult outside our family who our son knew by name. Replay has even been immortalized in song by a dad who has written a ditty to the tune of “Found a Peanut” about going to “Greg’s store.”
Replay is located at 2945 De la Vina Street; its hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 569-1313.