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Go Ask Mom

Chapel Hill children's store to close after 40 years

Posted March 20

After 40 years in business, a popular toy store in Chapel Hill is shutting down.

The Children's Store announced on Facebook on Sunday that it is in the process of closing its doors at 243 S. Elliott Rd., Chapel Hill. The entire store is 20 percent off.

"When our stockroom is empty, we will bid farewell," the notice said. "Thank you to our wonderful customers who have been so loyal all these years. We will miss you! But for now, enjoy great bargains while we liquidate our stock."

Owner and founder Jeanette Pfaff, 78, said Monday that it's time for her to retire.

"I’ve run this store for all this time," Pfaff said. "I just felt that it was time for me to do something else."

Pfaff opened the store in 1977 when she had young children at home. At first, The Children's Store focused on children's clothes. Later, she opened the Toy Corner, a separate shop that featured toys. Both shops were at University Place. About seven years ago, the two stores merged and moved to Elliott Road, Pfaff said.

Pfaff said she'll miss the daily interactions with her customers and staff. Manager Christine Coventry has worked at the store since 1979. Pfaff's daughter, Becky Broun, who was nine when the shop opened, also helps out.

"We have enjoyed doing the buying. We enjoy arranging the stuff," she said. "We enjoy the customers. It's been a wonderful occupation."

At a time when even the youngest kids are entertained with their parents' smartphones, the shop has seen success selling the kinds of toys that Pfaff said she grew up playing with. The shop features brands such as Corolle, Haba, Hape, Alex, Lego, Magna-Tiles and Playmobil, among others.

"People still buy blocks and dolls and dump trucks and teddy bears and that kind of thing for their children," Pfaff said. "I think a specialty store like mine has a lot of things that have been around for decades. .... And children just still like things like that."

Since announcing her plans, Pfaff said she's already had heart-wrenching conversations with customers. One woman came in Monday morning with her grandchildren. The customer had been shopping at the store for 40 years - when her daughter was born.

"It's a little emotional," Pfaff said.

Pfaff said it will take a few months before the store is closed. Stock is still coming in. And, she said, she has obligations to her employees.

"We're going to play it by ear and see how it goes," she said. "But, by the summer, we will no longer be here."

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  • Steve Clark Mar 20, 8:06 p.m.
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    I guess the market for children in Chapel Hill isn't what it used to be.