Paxton Gate kids store closing

After nearly 11 years in business, Paxton Gate’s toy store, Curiosities for Kids, is going out of business.

“It’s been an amazing ride in all kinds of ways,” owner Sean Quigley wrote in a letter announcing the closure of the store at 766 Valencia, “but over ten years later, this labor of love has yet to turn a profit.”

In an interview, Quigley said the closing date should be in early June.

A year and a half ago, he said, he took a “more critical look” at his company’s finances and hoped to break even after two years. As the two-year mark approaches, it’s become clear to him that isn’t happening. “Curiosities is losing money still,” he said.

Quigley started Paxton Gate 26 years ago, eventually spinning off an associated design and construction business, RareField Design/Build, as well as the toy store. But the proprietor said making Paxton Gate a profitable business took some 15 years.

“In our current climate, that’s not a feasible option” for the toy store, he said in the letter, noting that selling toys in the “age of Amazon is a daunting challenge.”

Quigley, who is also the president of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association, noted that shuttering the toy store will allow him to focus on RareField and, especially, Paxton Gate — which he noted was no cakewalk to keep afloat in a challenging retail sector.

“Spreading myself between three … businesses means that none of them is getting the attention they deserve,” Quigley wrote.

With eight more years on the lease, Quigley said he would like to fill the Curiosities space with an independent retailer and perhaps subdivide it for other ventures. “The last thing we want is another empty space along the corridor,” he wrote.

Sadly, he said, some of his six Curiosities employees will have to be let go. “I’ve never laid anyone off for lack of work,” he said. “We’re hoping to be able to keep a couple of people on at Paxton Gate.”

He said he’ll also be stocking some of the store’s favorites at Paxton Gate, especially science kits, plants, and sun-print kits. So the toy store “won’t be lost entirely,” he said.

Despite this outcome, “I don’t regret opening Curiosities one bit.”  

Curiosities by MissionLocal on Scribd

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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