Richmond's only family-owned toy store is set to go out of business this summer, ending the 79-year run of the downtown retail fixture.
Citing declining sales and revenue, Veach's Toy Station announced Monday that it plans to close in August.
Veach's has been at 715 E. Main St. since 1949 and has operated in the downtown Richmond area since opening in August 1938. The business is in its third generation of family ownership, under Shari Veach and her husband John Veach, whose grandparents started the store.
"Many factors have led to the decision to close the store, including a significant drop in sales over the past year-and-a-half, which has been experienced by many stores across the nation," the store said in a written statement. "A number of independent toy stores have closed in this past year due to these retail trends. We, too, have not been able to weather this precipitous change in sales volume."
The business has long been Richmond's only independently-owned toy store, and over the past several years has managed to compete with big-box stores in offering deals on major shopping days, including Black Friday.
Veach's generally offers what it considers to be higher quality toys, rather than big-name brands. It also has long offered toys that provide a focus on education and growth, such as science kits, learning units and other similar merchandise.
The business has also celebrated children's birthdays for the past 45 years by giving them a gift during their trip to the store.
The upper area of Veach's has been a go-to for local teachers over the years, as it offers a variety of school and classroom supplies.
Veach's began its going-out-of-business sale Monday by marking all regular-priced merchandise 25 percent off, and stated in the release it plans to provide additional details, including other markdowns and changes in store hours in the coming weeks.
The toy store has been featured on NBC's "Today" show at least twice in the past few years, and in 2013 celebrated its 75th anniversary with a downtown party spanning from Sixth to 10th streets.
"We hope to end our 79 years in business on a positive note, with (an event) in August to celebrate the life of the store with the Richmond community," the company said.
The business still plans to offer summer classes and crafting sessions.
Mayor Dave Snow said in an emailed statement to the Palladium-Item that he was disappointed to hear about the business's plans to close, and indicated he is hopeful the family will remain involved in the area.
"Veach's has been an anchor to our downtown retail for generations … (The family has) worked tirelessly to make this a great place to live, work, and most of all play," Snow's statement said. "I'm sad that we will lose such a special store, however I am happy that we still have the amazing Veach family as community partners."
Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce president Phil D'Amico said he was surprised by the closure, but praised its owners for the business's longevity. He also expressed hope that the chamber might be able to work work with the city and other downtown businesses to find another business to take over the 16,000-square-foot building moving forward.
"You never want to see your locally-owned businesses go away, particularly one so involved and wonderful as we've had with Veach's Toy Station," he said. "My hope is we will be able to work with (community partners) as we move forward to fill the void that will soon be left behind by the (store)."
It is unclear whether the Veach family plans to sell the building, which the current owners have held since 2013. The building was previously owned by William and Shirley Veach, according to Wayne County property records.
In addition to uncertainty about the storefront's future, it is unclear at this point whether anyone may try to buy the store from the family — or if such offers have previously been made.
The store has had an online presence for several years, listing its newest arrivals, but it never entered the fray of selling products through its website.
Phone messages were left for John and Shari Veach, but they did not immediately call back for comment.
Mary Walker, president of the Wayne County Tourism and Convention Bureau, said the store's closure was disappointing, given its significance in the area.
"This is a huge loss for our community," she said. "Families from all over the area and region for decades made the store a destination on their visits here. I know this couldn't have been an easy decision for the Veaches, and I certainly am grateful for the time, energy and resources the family has given to our community over the years."
Walker said while there remain other businesses and attractions that she expects will continue to bring visitors to Wayne County, Veach's has long been one of the key drivers for families planning to the Richmond area, particularly those who are returning to city after some time away.
"This is certainly going to have an impact on tourism in the region. It's a very special store, and I think it's going to sadden a lot of people that it won't be around anymore," she said. "But it's important to continue to support local businesses whenever and wherever we can."