They have been selling old toys downtown for 30 years. Now this couple from Tacoma are retiring – KIRO 7 news Seattle
TACOMA, Washington – Kendra Frogge feels like it was only yesterday that she and her husband Tom Frogge opened their vintage toy store in downtown Tacoma.
In fact, the Frogges opened Lily Pad Antiques – the name is a play on their last name – 31 years ago.
“We don’t know where the time has passed,” Kendra Frogge, 59, told the News Tribune as she stood among the thousands of toys in her store one September afternoon.
For years the Frogges have enjoyed brightening up their customers’ days, but now they are ready to pass the torch to a new owner and retire.
“We want to travel, we want to spend more time with our grandchildren and great grandchildren because we have a lot of them,” said Tom Frogge, 66.
The Frogges have spent decades amassing a collection of antiques and collectibles. Now there are no more counters or empty walls in Lily Pad, a 1,600 square foot store.
Step inside and you’ll see Coca-Cola-themed trinkets line the shelves in one corner and Star Wars figures and items in another. Raggedy Ann dolls, old and new, are gathered in a basket on the floor and by the front window. Lunch boxes, Barbies, and Disney toys can be picked up along the maze-like path through the store.
For Derek Nelson, sifting through the store’s treasure trove of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars for his collection while chatting with the Frogges is a great way to unwind after a long day.
“I refuse to buy anything online for my collection, because I love to hunt, and I love places like this and I love the idea of a ’66 toy that a kid bought, you know, and played with forever and now here it is in my collection, ”he said.
Nelson said he was sad the frogs were leaving.
“I love to come in and talk to Tom and Kendra,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun, you know, talking about toys and life in general. “
Married for 30 years, the Frogges first met at a flea market and decided to open their own boutique in downtown Tacoma, where they stayed for a few years before moving to a larger space in their current location at 756 Broadway.
“Toys have always been fun,” said Tom Frogge. “They have always been linked to a happy time in your life. Most people find a toy from their childhood that brings back a happy time. That’s why we’ve always loved toys.
The Frogges were at the forefront of the changing downtown landscape over the years. Condos and places like McMenamins have attracted more people.
“Come here on Saturday, Sunday, there are a lot of people walking around, where there was still five years there was none,” he said.
At the same time, there is more competition in the antique toy industry than before.
“You have to compete with the online sellers who don’t need bricks and mortar – and they’re younger people, so they can hunt things faster than us,” said Tom Frogge. “Probably 15 years ago, even, there were only two comic book stores that sold comics in Tacoma. Now there are probably 10 or 15.
The store has had to adapt to offer toys that have become more popular over the years. Tom Frogge said that some Star Wars figures and Pokémon cards can sell for a high price and are currently popular. While toys from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s gather dust, toys from the 70’s and 80’s are flying off the shelves.
“We’ve been here for so long that we’ve seen things that were popular then not popular now,” said Kendra Frogge. “It’s every generation. It changes. Something that we thought was rare now is common. Something that we thought was common now is rare. So we had to adjust our merchandise and inventory to the current generation.
Aside from the merchandise, the Frogges have said that the memories of the people they have met are what they will take with them when they leave.
“We met so many great people,” said Kendra Frogge. “They invited us to their home. We went out to dinner. Unfortunately (we) went to a funeral, but many of them become precious friends. “
Fortunately, the water lily is not going anywhere. Clarence Acosta, a longtime friend of the Frogges, will take over when the Frogges leave at the end of September.
“We’ve known him for 30 years. And he loves toys, maybe more than us, ”said Tom Frogge.
Acosta, who works for a tooling company in Tacoma, is an avid collector of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars and has been buying, selling and trading them for years.
“I came here one day and they were talking about retiring, so other things kind of fell into place,” he told The News Tribune.
Acosta said there might be small changes to the store going forward, but nothing drastic, and likely not anytime soon.
“I am looking forward to meeting all of the clients,” he said.
This story was originally posted by The News Tribune.
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