Hi, my name is Sallie Kashiwa, and I started Timbuk Toys in 1993. Timbuk Toys was born out of a passion for creating community and an appreciation for great toys that help kids learn! I was pursuing a dual master’s degree in Urban Planning and Architecture and thinking a lot about what makes a community tick. My family and I live in the Denver neighborhood of Park Hill. At that time, our area had no good stores, restaurants or fun places for families to connect. I was inspired to create the kind of shop I wanted for my own community. So, instead of completing my degree, I rented a space and, with virtually no experience in retail, opened my first store.
The first shop was called Presents of Mind. It was a tiny store that featured an antique cash register, a small table for wrapping and just enough room for a modest selection of toys, games, puzzles, books and stuffed animals. It was quaint, but there were not enough customers to keep the doors open. I decided to change the name and began looking for a new location. The University Hills Shopping Center was being built and the very last available space became the very first Timbuk Toys!
Timbuk Toys opened in the midst of the Beanie Baby craze, so the early days were busy and the new business grew quickly. With an office the size of a broom closet and no storage space at all, the store was too small. When a restaurant next to King Soopers closed, Timbuk Toys moved across the shopping center into that space.
University Hills was a great location for the new Timbuk Toys, but I still wanted to serve the northeast side of town where I lived. In 1999, as the Lowry Air Force Base was being decommissioned, I seized the opportunity to become the first signed tenant for the new Lowry Town Center. Due to construction delays, I had to wait three years to open that store. But, it ended up being good timing because, in early 2000, we welcomed our third son!
The Lowry store opened in the fall of 2002. With two stores selling lots of toys, there was need for an organizational space where incoming toys could be received, tagged and stored. In 2003, I found a perfect warehouse halfway between the two stores and moved myself and my receiving staff to this off-site location. It was hard to leave the fun of being at the store, but necessary in order to manage the back-end of the growing business.
In 2008 a serious recession hit. In the midst of falling sales and news of many business failures, I was facing the possibility of having to lay off staff in order to save my company. A customer, who was also a business broker, recommended that I look at an opportunity in Highlands Ranch. It turned out that one of my managers was interested in moving to that side of town. So, instead of contracting, I decided to reinvest and expand. The risk was great, but so was the joy when we opened the new Highlands Ranch store on Earth Day in April of 2009!
I discovered the Lakewood location when taking my son to sports practices. Next to a pretty park in the middle of a shopping center, I found a space that looked perfect for a toy store. I had often thought about serving the west side of town, as well as the I-70 and 6th Avenue corridor, so this was ideal. That spring, I met a young woman with toy store management experience who lived in Lakewood. She was looking for a job, and everything lined up for us to open the Lakewood store just in time for the holidays in 2012.
Our most recent change took place in January of 2015, when we moved Store #1 across the street from University Hills Shopping Center to University Hills Plaza. The new store is spacious and beautiful and features a fully equipped Party Room for classes and special events. There’s plenty of room for parking and it’s highly visible from Colorado Boulevard. We think this new space is fantastic, and we are having fun growing into it!
It’s been a crazy ride, but that’s the story of how Timbuk Toys came to have four bustling stores across the area. People often ask if we are a “chain store.” We are certainly not, but we do like to say that we have “strong links” between our stores! We care passionately about each area of town we serve, and we hope that our multiple locations give more families the fun and convenience of great local shopping!
Thanks for reading this story about me and my stores! And, most importantly, thank you for supporting my team by shopping at Timbuk Toys!!!
Timbuk Toys Timeline
1993 – Presents of Mind opens on Kearney Street in Park Hill
1997 – Timbuk Toys opens on the NW corner of the University Hills Shopping Center
1999 – Store #1 moves to the SE corner of the University Hills Shopping Center, next to King Soopers.
2002 – Store #2 opens in the Lowry Town Center
2003 – Move Operations to an off-site location with a warehouse and business office
2009 – Store #3 opens in the Highlands Ranch Town Center
2012 – Store #4 opens in Lakewood City Commons
2015 – Store #1 moves from the University Hills Shopping Center to University Hills Plaza
2020 -- Replaced Highlands Ranch store with a Store in the Aspen Grove Shopping Center