CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)– MagnifIlous Toy Emporium is closing after five years of business. The toy shop is located on upper King St. across from Morris Sokol.
Owners Nancy and Blane Sommers say they are forced to close the store because of rising rent costs in Downtown Charleston.
“We have seen rents go from maybe $30 on upper King Street to maybe $60 per square foot and almost $90 on central King st. so it just goes up and up and up,” says Nancy Sommer.
The Sommers said the specialty store was created to be an experience for children and parents alike.
“It can be sad for the community, Charleston’s great appeal was the fact that we weren’t their cookie cutter city and I think that tourists are starting to wonder what is going on here? All we see is closed going, out of business, store closing and shutters and even though I try to explain to them that its actually progress because new people are moving in. They are recognizing they are loosing individuality,” said Nancy Sommer.
Their neighbors, Dixie Furniture and Morris Sokol, have also closed in the past couple of years.
“My real concern is that Charleston is losing its charm. We came here for charm and energy, but we slowly see the mom and pops leave, which gave it the individuality,” said Blane Sommer.
Shoppers came into the stores to bid adieu.
“It’s the difference between being able to meet and know the owner and having the nameless faceless online retailer and not knowing who is selling it,” said one shopper. “I think we are at a crossroads. As Charleston becomes a destination city and more tourist are coming. More people come the higher the prices becomes so its just harder to keep the charm,” she added.