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Home-grown toy-store chain expands to Bath

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Home-grown toy-store chain expands to Bath

BATH — A business that started in Yarmouth as a home-based online venture in 2001 has now opened its third retail store.

Although Anita and Jim Demetropoulos weren't planning to expand Island Treasure Toys, they said they decided to open at 182 Front St. after the landlord approached them.

"I love this space," Anita Demetropoulos said April 19, two days after the 1,200-square-foot store opened.

Renovations, like new lighting and flooring had just been completed. The store still lacked a sign, an "open" flag and posted hours. 

But it did have plenty of toys. And popcorn. And the facade's already bright colors made it eye-catching enough to draw steady traffic.

"The reception here has been unbelievable," Demetropoulos said. "This city is fabulous."

"I love it here," added P.D. Wappler, who manages the store and commutes from Portland. "Everyone is really, really awesome. And my days have been flying by."

The Demetropouloses opened their first store on Main Street in Yarmouth in 2002. Continued growth eventually triggered a move to 805 Route 1. Two years ago they opened their second store at 20 Bow St. in Freeport.

The store sells an assortment of high-quality specialty toys for youthful visitors to explore and enjoy.

Recycling is also a big part of the operation: the Demetropouloses partnered with Efficiency Maine this year to convert their Freeport and Bath showroom lights to LED bulbs, which are estimated to save 50,000 kilowatt hours each year, an 80 percent reduction over traditional lighting.

Demetropoulos noted that she spends thousands of dollars on electricity in just the Freeport store – which occupies more than 3,000 square feet.

The stores, which offer toys at all price points, will soon be employing 13 people. The Demetropouloses' four children also take part in the operations.

"We love what we do," Demetropoulos said. "We're playful here, we interact with our customers, the kids have things they can play with, we have complimentary gift-wrap, we help choose items for people. It's just fun."

"We take pride in what we do," she added. "We care about about our customers; often we know their names."

After 12 years in the toy business, one key lesson Demetropoulos said she has learned is the need to be willing to change.

"You have to listen to your customers," she said. "You have to be aware of what's going on in the environment."

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.