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  • Stuffed animals for sale at Timbuk Toys in Highlands Ranch July 23.
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  • Willard Bone, 4, picks up a watch at Timbuk Toys in Highlands Ranch July 23.
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When Sallie Kashiwa opened her first toy store back in 1993, she wanted to create a place that established community within families.

Now, after spending 11 years in business at the Highlands Ranch Town Center, she’s closing down one of Timbuk Toys’ four stores.  

“Toys was definitely where my heart took me because of the informal education that takes place during play,” Kashiwa said in an interview at the store. “As I have spent time in the toy industry, I’ve only grown in appreciation for how much children grow and learn through play.”

While the store has been struggling in recent years as online shopping has become more popular, the restrictions put in place by the coronavirus pandemic pushed the business over the edge, she said.

“COVID killed it,” Kashiwa said. “If you have to be closed for a snow day, you start to say, ‘How the heck am I going to pay my rent?’ To have to be closed for months — there was no way that I was going to be able to make up that money.”

The closing sale began July 9 and is slated to end when all inventory is sold.

Come September, however, Kashiwa plans to open another store as a replacement in the Aspen Grove area, she said.

“It’s been an absolute joy to be part of Highlands Ranch,” she said. “Working this sale has been the most gratifying experience … People have come in and over and over again have said ‘we’re so sad that you’re closing you have been such an important part of our children’s childhood.’”

The store’s other locations are in the University Hills Plaza and the Lowry Town Center, both in Denver, and the Lakewood City Commons. 

“I would argue that what children learn during play is far more impactful to the longevity of their lives than anything they will ever learn in the classroom,” she said. “I get to provide the tools that spark the beginnings of (their) passions.”