Building Blocks Toy Store in Lakeview—a stalwart independent toy store and nominee for our Hipsqueak Awards—suffered severe water damage on Saturday, when the major storm swept through the area in the early afternoon. Building Blocks owner Katherine McHenry says the overwhelmed storm drains pushed about 400 gallons of water up through the store’s floor drain, culminating in three to four inches of rainwater collecting all the way to the store’s front door. She estimates the the damage could exceed $50,000, far above the $15,000 cap on her insurance policy.
Like most independent retailers, McHenry’s store obviously operates at a smaller margin than any chain, and during a brief phone interview, a distraught McHenry admitted she worried about the store’s future. Merchandise, supplies and displays were all damaged. On Sunday, she held a sidewalk sale to sell off most of the goods that had been affected but were still in good condition, but took in only $2,000.
“I’ve been really overwhelmed,” says McHenry, who was at home, nursing her six-month-old daughter when she received the call about the flood. “We cleared out the stuff that could be salvaged for a little bit of money, I couldn’t in good conscience throw things away that were playable, that weren’t damaged by the water.”
McHenry says the store may hold another sale to sell off the last of the salvaged merchandise this weekend. The store is back open for business, so folks who have enjoyed shopping there over the years can support the store. I asked McHenry—who opened the store 16 years ago—if any other sort of fund-raiser or benefit was planned, but she said she didn’t know, and is reluctant to put anything together.
“I want people to come here because they like what we offer, and because my staff is great and we remember their names,” she says. “On the one hand, I really appreciate everything, but on the other hand, it’s hard for me, I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.”
So in the meantime, if you like the store and want to help, you can go in and shop, or stop by this weekend for the sidewalk sale. We’ll keep you updated on any other efforts to help keep Building Blocks in business.