A ‘Ton of Fun’ at O.P. Taylor’s
Visit two NC toy store locations for fun and gamesBy Lori Grossman
With school out, if you find yourself on a Western NC road trip with a car full of kids (or grandkids), a stop at O. P. Taylor’s toy store could help the miles pass more quickly.
Customers’ rave reviews have spread O. P. Taylor’s story far and wide. USA Today included it in its 2014 list of the 10 Best Toy Stores, alongside the world-renowned FAO Schwarz and London’s Hamleys toy shop. Pretty impressive company. Let’s head to the Brevard location and find out why.
You know you’re in for a treat when you see the life-size toy soldiers “guarding” the entrance. Inside, the 6,000-square-foot space is jam-packed with toys on two levels. Owner John Taylor and his staff are a bunch of grownup kids who have a blast demonstrating (playing with) various toys. You’re encouraged to join the fun, too.
Taylor and his wife, Susie, acquired the space on S Broad Street in 1987. After a year as an outfitter store, they transitioned to toys. The magic began with the store’s attention-grabbing name.
They wanted something fun to pair with their last name. A friend suggested using “Opie,” the first name of Sheriff Andy Taylor’s young son on the Andy Griffith Show. The first two letters of the name were a perfect fit. Stocking the store was next on the agenda. John had definite ideas about what kind of toys he wanted to sell.
“We don’t do video games, mainly because we want kids to use their imaginations, learn to figure stuff out, build things, experiment and discover,” he says. “Sitting in front of a TV playing video games rots your brain!”
So this is the place to introduce your kids and grandkids to the joys of model-building or just playing with a Slinky. (Remember?) Stuffed animals adorn the stairway to the second level, where there are many a potential [stuffed] best friend to be found. Board games fill another corner. A slot-car racetrack dominates the middle of the first floor.
You’ll hear the happy sound of excited kids and grownups up here, too. If you can drag yourself away from poring over the stocked shelves, reexperience the fun of twirling a hula-hoop. An employee — or maybe even John — may challenge you to a contest, so be ready. (You’ll recognize John. He’s the one wearing a propeller beanie.)
The store is known for its LEGO stock. In the mood for some spur-of-the-moment building? There’s a space for that. When you’re done, check the shelves. You’re bound to find a set you don’t have, or possibly one of the hard-to-find ones you’ve been searching for.
There’s enough fun here to keep you and the young ones busy for hours. Put it on your list for holiday shopping, too — the store draws visitors from all over for Christmas shopping.
“We have a group of six ladies from Metro Atlanta that rents a VRBO every Thanksgiving to come to O. P. Taylor’s and Christmas shop,” John says. “I have a young couple from Boston that also comes down Thanksgiving weekend.”
There are two other locations in addition to the original store in Brevard. A spot in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, has been open since 2002, and though half the size of the Brevard flagship, Taylor says it’s “a ton of fun.”
The Hendersonville store opened last June. As announced on social media at the time: “The Hendersonville store is open! The pandemonium and craziness has officially begun.”
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