Owner Dave Plenn has signed an extension on his lease to keep his toy store, The Dinosaur Farm, in South Pasadena for at least another three years.
The Dinosaur Farm will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in November. The store originally opened in the space next door, now occupied by the gift shop Marz, and moved to its current spot in 2003.
“I’m extremely grateful for the support from the community. It’s humbling to say the least,” Plenn said. “I still love to go to work there. It’s the best place on earth to spend your day.”
Plenn, who has only run one store in his life while keeping his hand in as a musician which was his previous fulltime gig — is already thinking of creative ways to celebrate the store’s 30th anniversary.
“We’ll probably start our celebration a little early,” he said.
The Dinosaur Farm is one of a vanishing breed of small, independent toy stores which attracts customers from all over the region with its unique selection of children’s toys and gifts — ranging from its namesake dinosaur selections to games, Lego sets, books, art supplies and baby gifts.
Plenn had to survive a one-two punch to his business — first the COVID pandemic, and then water damage last May, which closed the store for several months.
Supporters and customers wrote notes of support on the paper covering the windows during repairs, urging the store to reopen.
And reopen it did and Plenn said that he had the best December in the store’s history.
“It’s left a financial hole that it’s going to take some time to dig out of,” Plenn said. “COVID could have done us in except for a government loan.
“But despite it all, we’re still here.”
The Western Toy and Hobby Association late last year named The Dinosaur farm as its retailer of the year. Plenn is going to Las Vegas next month to receive the award and to address its convention.
“I started the store as the parent of a child and I still run it from a parent’s perspective rather than just as a retail guy,” Plenn said. “I want this to be a fun environment and people respond to that.
“My son was coming in to the toy store when he was 2 or 3 years old so I’m very familiar with what kids do in toy stores and I’m good with that.”
First published in the February 9 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.