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Toy Boat store's finances adrift

Owners of the Corona del Mar landmark say they are having trouble paying the rent and if things do not change soon, they will need to close the toy shop.

July 25, 2012|By Jillian Beck

Toy Boat had 35 employees when all four locations were open, but now Mike and Lori Curtin run the Corona del Mar store with a few people helping out on weekends and for a few hours on weekdays during the summer.

Inside, customers are greeted by warm smiles, pleasant conversation and maybe a toy suggestion.

Lori Curtin, who wears a necklace with a small anchor charm, said her husband bought it for her when they first bought all the stores in 2007. When her daughter, Chloe, was born almost three years ago, Curtin traded the anchor necklace for a necklace bearing her daughter's name.

"When things started to get rough around here, I put the anchor necklace back on," she said. "I hoped it would bring some luck with it."


Last week, Newport Beach resident Tiffany Antoci asked Toy Boat if the store wanted to sponsor or donate toys for a charity event this fall at Children's Hospital of Orange County, only to find out about the Curtins' financial troubles.

Hoping to spur community support, Antoci emailed a list for those who live in the Port Streets neighborhood in Newport Beach.

"You never know who you'll reach when you send something out," she said. "I just wish I could do more."

Toy Boat has a history of supporting local schools and community events such as the Newport-Mesa Spirit Run, a schools fundraiser.

Lori Curtin said she has started to politely tell customers about their financial situation and asked for help on the store's Facebook page.

So far, Curtin said business seemed to pick up slightly this past weekend, after Antoci sent the email. But a small boost in sales won't be enough to save the store.

It's going to take monetary donations, Curtin said.

"We've put our lives into this, like so many small-business owners do," Lori Curtin said. "My family is in this. Everything is in this. We're trying to do everything we can to stay alive."

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