Childhood hobby becomes career path as Sylvania Toy Company opens

by Sylvania AdVantage Staff

Tony Spare grew up collecting GI Joe and other action figures, learning the art of collecting from his father who owned an antique and collectibles store. His wife, Elle, grew up treasuring Strawberry Shortcake memorabilia.
As adults, they have been able to parlay their childhood passions into a successful and fulfilling career.
For the past 15 years, the couple has been buying and selling toys at shows held in the tri-state area. However, those shows have been put on hold during the pandemic.
“We saw this as an opportunity for us to open our own family-run toy store. This space at 5929 Sylvania Ave. was available and the location is ideal on a high traffic intersection offering us great visibility,” Spare pointed out. “Building owner Bob Wagner has been great to work with and very helpful,” he added.

Elle and Tony Spare place some additional toys on the shelves they built in their new store at
5929 Sylvania Ave. at Holland Sylvania Road.

In addition to a wide variety of collectibles, primarily from the 1970s and the 1980s and vintage toys dating back to the 1960s, boys and girls can find a myriad of new toys, games, comic books, video games and more filling the shelves of the shop. One wall is filled with GI Joe action figures while another boasts Star Wars and yet another Ninja Turtles, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony memorabilia. Cases are filled with Hot Wheel and slot wheel cars while action figures occupy another space. A new building block toy made by COBI, featuring Jeeps, battleships, the Titanic and more, complete with educational information, is also available.
“While our market up to now has been buying and selling collectibles to adults, it is great fun to watch children come in and explore all that we have to offer. Unfortunately, so many toy stores have closed and children do not have that opportunity,” he said.
In addition to operating the new store, Spare and his wife continue to seek out toy collections to acquire. “We think of ourselves as Ohio’s original toy pickers,” Spare chuckled. “We go to people’s homes and buy toys that are in basements or garages. We do all the work sorting, packing and taking them away after negotiating fair prices for the collections,” he said.
The Sylvania Toy Company is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 6 pm.

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