180 WEST CALIFORNIA STREET
Toy stores are meant to be magical places, filled with unique treasures that spark the imagination. Often, such wonderful neighborhood stores exist only in memories. But everyone who visits Scheffel’s Toys & More, on the northeast corner of California and Oregon streets, knows that they’ve found the real thing: a classic toy shop filled with more than enough puppets, puzzles, baby dolls, and stuffed animals to inspire any child’s—or adult’s—dreams.
How has Scheffel’s managed to keep those dreams alive in an era filled with lower end competitors and Internet shopping? “We’ve gotten smarter about buying,” states storeowner Linda Graham (née Scheffel). “And we pay attention to what people come in and ask for,” she adds. “I’d noticed that more and more adults wanted jigsaw puzzles, so we began to stock more Ravensburger puzzles and games. The only electronics we carry are the ones you have to build yourself. We have Thames and Kosmos science kits and Faber-Castell art supplies. Playmobil is our most popular brand of toy. They remind some people of Legos, but these sets aren’t just building systems—they’re play systems. We carry Douglas Cuddle Toys—quality stuffed animals. And we handpick our selection of children’s books. I test everything,” Linda emphasizes, “by my standards as a mom.”
Scheffel’s maintains its multi-generational family tradition. “My grandparents started Scheffel’s Antiques in Jacksonville, and then my folks took it over when I was ten-years-old,” Linda says. Her parents soon became disenchanted with selling only antiques, so “they began integrating gifts, and then toys.” And then, during a fateful trip to New York, Linda’s parents stepped into the world-renowned toy merchant FAO Schwarz. “They loved the concept of having a high-end toy store like that, because at the time, there was nothing like it on this side of the country. So they started bringing in that kind of inventory, and for a while we literally were like the FAO Schwarz of the West Coast.”
Linda and her husband Bill Graham took over the business when Linda’s parents retired in the 1990s. All along, the store has been a destination stop for customers “from Roseburg to Redding,” notes Linda.
In recent years, the store has seen an increase in adults who once came to the store as children. “Now they bring in their own kids,” she explains. “They say, ‘My parents used to bring me here! It’s awesome! Do you still have—?’ We usually answer, ‘Why, of course we do!’”
Linda grins. “I love to see people allow themselves to become children again, right in front of their own children!”