Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bedford Falls toy store to close this month

The wonderful life of Bedford Falls, an independent toy store in Charlotte for 24 years, is coming to an end.

Jean Odom, Bedford Falls' owner, said she's not shuttering the Park Road Shopping Center store because business is bad. Instead, Odom said she wants to focus her time and energy on her other business, Cardinal Lane Book Fairs, a growing company that's been providing textbooks and book fair materials to local schools.

"It has gotten to be where I'm so busy I had to make a choice," said Odom. "My thought was, do you go through Christmas and keep trying to do two full-time jobs?"

The toy store will close Oct. 22, Odom said. While closing a toy store on the eve of the holiday shopping rush seems counter-intuitive, Odom said she believes selling off her inventory will be easier now than after Christmas.

Most of the store's inventory is 30 percent off, Odom said, and the markdowns will increase as the closing date draws nearer.

The store drew its name from the town where "It's a Wonderful Life" is set. "We truly wanted to be like George Bailey," Odom said, referring to the movie's main character, who influenced his community in many positive ways.

There used to be three Bedford Falls stores. A location in the University City area closed after it failed to become profitable, Odom said. A longtime location at Providence and Sharon Amity Roads eventually followed suit. The Park Road store opened 14 years ago.

"It was an incredible place," she said. "I have nothing but happy memories."

Odom said her Cardinal Lane Book Fairs business grew out of the Bedford Falls stores. She said that she began putting on book fairs with local schools about 20 years ago. Odom renamed the business Cardinal Lane Book Fairs about four years ago.

Things really took off when the Joseph Beth bookstore at SouthPark closed last year. The closing store passed Cardinal Fair textbook accounts for two local private schools. Odom found herself getting busier than ever.

When she decided to choose one business to keep open, Odom said she picked the book business because of her passion for reading. She remembers waiting in eager anticipation for the next Nancy Drew book as a girl.

Odom considered selling the business, but decided not to after a retail business broker told her it could find up to a year to find a suitable buyer.

"It made sense to do it now," she said of the closing. "It was just the right time."

Do you have a fond memory of Bedford Falls? Leave it in a comment below, or email elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com.


Wiley Coyote said...

Did Fox Books open in Charlotte?...

It seems to me that if the store was profitable, you could do both, by having someone else run the store while you focused on your other venture...

Anonymous said...

Bedford Falls is a wonderful store, especially during the Christmas holiday season. I suppose it's a sound business decision on the part of the owner, but I'll hate to see it go. At least we still have Black Forest.

Anonymous said...

@wiley, Maybe if she had to pay someone else to do the job that is up to the Bedford Falls standard that profit would be a loss. I do see your point though.

Anonymous said...

Great store, sorry to hear yet Jean is smart and trust her decision. So...- Queens Univ - GRAB the now open spot @ Park Rd Shop Ctr for activities off the Selwyn campus!

Anonymous said...

I hate to see it close- the fond memories of Bedford Falls, Toy Castle, Toy Circus, Jack and Jills- in teh days before Toys'R Us and Lionel- those were real stores for real kids and places to launch your imagination!

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