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After decades in San Francisco, Jeffrey's Toys says it's at risk of closing soon

 A San Francisco toy store that’s been around for decades is at risk of closing for good. The owners of Jeffrey’s Toys on Kearny Street and Maiden Lane say the business is struggling to stay afloat.

As far as holiday shopping goes, this is crunch time, particularly for brick-and-mortar businesses.

Matthew Luhn, the co-owner of Jeffrey’s Toys says this period of time in the 10 days leading up to business typically draws in lots of business, as the deadlines for shipping are dwindling and people need gifts in time for the holidays.

“We are like nine days from Christmas, all of this is full,” Luhn said, gesturing to an entire aisle stacked to the brim with toy racecars. “This shouldn’t be like that, this should be like down-to-the-scraps.”

Luhn said in previous years, by this point in the shopping season, the inventory is usually more picked over.  His family has a great deal of experience with shopping seasons in the Bay Area.

Back in 1938, Luhn’s great-grandparents Morton and Birdie Luhn opened a five-and-dime store in San Francisco called Birdie’s Variety store. After World War II, the population experienced a baby boom and the Luhns noticed a demand for toys. In 1953, the variety store was transformed into Birdie’s Toyhouse. In 1966, the store became Jeffrey’s Toys, named for one of Morton and Birdie’s grandchildren: Jeffrey.

Matthew Luhn is the fourth generation to work in his family’s toy business, which over the years has evolved, adding and at times closing locations.

Luhn says over the last couple of years fewer and fewer people have been shopping in the store over the holidays. If this pattern continues, he says, his family will need to close the store permanently.

Luhn suspects that fear about crime, plus more people working from home and store vacancies have led to the decline in foot traffic.

“We’re one of the oldest family-run stores in the city, but all of them are slowly disappearing,” Luhn noted.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has been working on initiatives to support small businesses. This past week, Mayor London Breed signed several reforms aimed at filling vacancies and making permitting easier for small businesses.

City and business leaders have also been working to make the holiday season feel safer and more welcoming for those in and around San Francisco’s Union Square. So far, the transit numbers appear to show an increase in visitors to the city over this time last year.

But Luhn says so far none of those efforts have helped Jeffrey’s yet. 

“I hope things will change, but I know that we just can’t keep covering the loss every month without help from the city,” Luhn said, adding he would appreciate direct outreach and assistance from the city.

For now, the Luhn family says whether Jeffrey’s manages to last another year will depend on whether customers come in to support them during this holiday rush.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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