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Toy boat, toy boat, toy boyt

March 14, 2005

Andrew Edwards

The name is a tongue twister. The store is like a giant toy box.

Gary and Diane Naumann opened the fourth branch of Toy Boat Toy

Boat Toy Boat last Tuesday at Fashion Island. The store is filled

with tricycles, dolls, trucks and pirate ships.

"We carry just about everything -- we have Mattel; we have Hasbro;

but we have a lot of specialty toys," Gary Naumann said.

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Some favorite toys at the store, the Naumanns said, are the bright

plastic Bruder trucks that are stacked near the doorway. Kettler

tricycles and Madame Alexander dolls have also been big sellers, and

grown-up collectors are known to frequent the shop.

"We sell a lot to adults too," Diane Naumann said, though the

store also carries small toys children can buy with pocket change.

"You can buy things for 15 cents -- parachute guys," she said.

The Naumanns started their chain 10 years ago, after the Corona

del Mar toy store where Diane had worked was closed. Gary Naumann

left his job at Deloitte and Touche to open the store.

"There's a lot less zeroes, but actually it's a lot more

personal," he said. "How could you not have fun working in a toy

store?"

Diane Naumann has about 17 years experience selling toys. In that

time, she's noticed more and more young children want toys that used

to be geared to older boys and girls.

"It's changed a bit because the kids are getting older toys at a

younger age. They're growing up a lot faster," she said.

Though the new store is in swanky Fashion Island, the owners want

Toy Boat to feel like Main Street.

"Basically, as fancy as this looks, it's a neighborhood toy store,

and we want to keep it a neighborhood toy store," Gary Naumann said.

Toys marketed as tie-ins to movies or cartoons are rare at Toy

Boat. The couple prefer to sell more timeless playthings, such as

stuffed animals, puzzles and die-cast cars.

"Our bent is really classic, traditional toys," Diane Naumann

said. "Things that have really lasted for years."

All four Toy Boat stores are in Newport Beach. Will the Naumanns

open a store in another city?

"Never say never -- that's the old line," Gary Naumann said. "We'd

consider it down the line."

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