By PrincessSafiya Byers
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit milwaukeenns.org.
The Toy Dimension has recovered from yet another financial setback and is back to operating as usual.
After having a great year in 2020, despite the pandemic, the collectibles store was on the verge of closing in 2021 after owner Henry Smith suffered two back-to-back strokes that left him incapacitated for weeks.
Because Smith was unable to work for an extended period, he fell behind on bills and became concerned about the future of the store located at 5925 W North Ave.
“Rent was past due at the store,” Smith said. “The landlord was patient with us, but there wasn’t much I could do until my health was back intact. Not being able to do what I needed to do was a real challenge.”
Toy Dimension is a museum of sorts, and Smith is known in the community for being able to teach patrons the history of each figure or comic book displayed on the store’s walls.
Community members are happy to see the store back up and running.
“It’s one of a handful of retail shops in the corridor that cater to collectors by offering a unique and highly specialized experience,” said Tracy Staedter, the executive director of Uptown Crossing Business Improvement District #16.
Smith said a GoFundMe account, created by his fiancé, with the help of people he’s yet to meet, kept the store open while he recovered.
Smith said he was able to apply for disability after the strokes to balance his personal bills. Although business is a little slower, he remains hopeful.
“Being in the toy business is a lot like dealing with stocks,” said Smith, who has had a passion for toys ever since he was a kid. “The value of a product is determined by age and condition, of course, but there are outside factors that you can’t really control.”
Though his store has been slow to recover, and he’s still working through the long-term effects of multiple strokes, Smith is happy to be back.
“I love what I do, and it’s not just about the toys,” he said. “I’ve been able to build community here and now I see collectors that I met as children bringing their children in. It makes me happy to see them.”
For more information
Smith hosts a comic and toy show at Burnham Bowl, 6016 W. Burnham St., West Allis, every other month. The next show will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 3. For more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 414- 476-5596.