The town of Severna Park is full of local businesses that provide great services for the community.
In order to get a better sense of the owners and managers behind the businesses, Patch is introducing a new column. Severna Park Patch will talk with local business owners about life in Severna Park and how they got their start.
This week Patch spoke with Franklin's Toys owner Jeff Franklin.
Franklin's Toys has been in business since 1985 and the store itself is a dream destination for kids of all ages. In fact, Franklin's Toys has been around long enough that Franklin says he now sees second-generation customers—adults who used to be kids in the store now shop for kids of their own.
Severna Park Patch: What is your favorite part about running a business in Severna Park?
Jeff Franklin: The community. I love the people; I love our customers. We also have a great staff so we have fun behind the counters as well as in front of the counter. I really enjoy being involved in the community. It was one of the things I missed when I was briefly retired. I have wonderful employees and staff members some of whom have worked here for over 20 years.
Severna Park Patch: How did your business get started, and where did the idea come from?
Franklin: My wife and I were both teachers and in 1979 we decided to get into the toy business. It was a way of staying involved with children but in a different context than in the classroom. My wife’s passion was teaching so she actually went back to teaching after working with me for a few years.
Severna Park Patch: What’s the biggest challenge Franklin's Toys has overcome?
Franklin: That’s an interesting question. During the time I was gone the way people buy things changed dramatically and the Internet became a very large competitor. Before, I knew who my competitors were and now I have thousands that I have never seen. So that was a big challenge. We also have to demonstrate to our customers there are important reasons to shop local.
Severna Park Patch: What’s unique about your business? Why should customers come?
Franklin: We understand children in a way I think some of the larger companies find irrelevant. I sort through and pick what I consider to be the best toys—toys that engage children and encourage creativity. Once I assemble those toys we have a staff that knows how the toys function and what ages they are good for and can make good recommendations. We support charities in the community, schools and other institutions that help children in the community. We also gift-wrap for free. I gear our merchandise to what our local customers want—it’s not a cookie-cutter operation where every store is the same. We listen to our customers and decided what to carry.
Severna Park Patch: What’s a typical day like for you?
Franklin: Very few days are typical because different things come up. When you run a small business you have to be involved in all aspects. Today for example I worked on orders for new toys I saw at the toy fair last week. At 10:30 I did storytime and read stories to some of our young customers, which I do every Tuesday. Then I do financial work then answer emails. That’s one of the things that is fun and challenging because your focus is constantly shifting the variety makes it fun.
Severna Park Patch: What other local businesses do you like to frequent?
Franklin: Well I bought some shoes yesterday at Spark Running. I frequent a variety of businesses like Clements. It really depends on what my needs are. I go to The Big Bean in the morning. I try to practice what I preach and shop local.
- Chatting with Mutt & Joe Manager Heather Jones
- Chatting with Breakfast Shoppe Owner Kyle Algaze
- Chatting with Spark Running Owner Caitlin Burman
- Chatting with the Owner of Kirsten’s Cakery
- Chatting with the Owner of Clement Hardware
- Chatting with The Big Bean Owner Deb Hoffman
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