Richland's Aunt Franny's Toys to close

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 17, 2014 

Frances Finfrock, owner of Aunt Franny's Toys, is closing her Uptown Shopping Center toy store at the end of the month. Her husband, Scott, recently took a new job in South Carolina.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Aunt Franny's Toys, a popular store at the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland, will close its doors Feb. 1 after more than 13 years in business.

The owner, Frances Finfrock, is moving to South Carolina.

"I didn't plan this," she said. "But my husband, Scott, was offered a nice job at Savannah River. We discussed it, and he accepted it. I believe it's the right decision and I have no qualms. It'll be quite the adventure."

Finfrock will miss her customers, some of whom have been shopping at her store for a decade or more, she said.

She's selling all her toys and costumes -- even the fixtures -- and some of her personal "stash" of toys.

Jeanette Allwardt of Kennewick was in the store this week loading shopping bags with birthday and Christmas gifts for her two daughters, Renee, 9, and Michaela, 5.

"I've come in here since my eldest was a baby -- no, I believe I came in before that, because some of her baby toys came from here," Allwardt said.

What brought Allwardt back to Aunt Franny's Toys time and time again is the quality of the merchandise, she said.

"It's wonderful to be able to buy toys that aren't plastic and don't break after 10 days," she said.

Gus Sako, whose store, Octopus' Garden, has been in the Uptown Shopping Center since 1976, said, "It's very sad to see her go. She's been an instrumental part of Uptown for many years. She started out small and grew here."

Aunt Franny's Toys first opened in November 2000 and has been in three locations, all in the Uptown Shopping Center.

"Aunt Franny's Toys has been a great business to have in the Uptown and I'll miss her and her store very much," Sako said.

Another who'll miss Finfrock's store is Matthew Walker, 10, of Pasco.

His mother, Melissa Walker, was in the store Thursday to scope out the selection of marbles for her son.

"He loves to come in for marbles. Nobody else we know of sells them singly, not in bags of all one kind," she said.

"When I told him the store was closing he almost cried. I'm going to bring him in after school so he can stock up," she said.

Finfrock has no children of her own, but likes kids and toys. She used to work with high-risk families in social service, collecting gently used toys and giving them away to the children.

"I got very good at finding used toys and learned what lasts and what breaks," she said, adding that she used that knowledge when buying stock for the shop.

As she stood at the cash register ringing up a mostly metal Tonka dump truck -- a rarity nowadays -- Finfrock said she tried really hard to find sturdy toys, which wasn't always easy.

What was easy, she said, was going to work.

"I've always looked forward to Mondays and coming to work here. I've had a good time at my job. One reason, it's important to test the things I sell," she said, grinning.

Aunt Franny's Toys will be open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, until she turns the key in the lock for the last time.

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