Mystery lives for joy of toys

At Mystery Toys in Penticton, everything old is new again.

Angel Kamps plays with a rare Japanese toy while her brother

At Mystery Toys, everything old is new again.

That might sound like a cliche, but in the case of the little toy shop that opened last fall on Westminster Avenue, it’s true in number of ways.

Mystery Toys specializes in old toys, cleaning, repairing them and packaging them for resale. But the business itself is a renewal of a shop opened on Front Street in 1998 by two brothers, Sandy and Dustin Kamps.

Those first premises were tiny, recalls Sandy, who was 14 when he went into business with his 16-year-old brother. Their original stock, he said, were their own toys, which their parents had saved over the years.

“It was crowded. So much so that we outgrew it in six months and had to move up to Government Street,” said Sandy. Later they relocated the operation to Kamloops.

But now, Mystery Toys is back in Penticton with Sandy and his wife Aurora partnering with his younger sister Angel, in the new shop.

Thought it is definitely a toy collector’s heaven, the Kamps say their aim is more to provide inexpensive quality toys for young families.

That’s why, Angel said, they take such care in cleaning and repackaging the toys.

“We want people to feel they are buying something new,” said Angel, explaining that they recognize how expensive buying toys for a family can be.  “Our goal with this store is to cater to people who can’t afford to get new toys all the time.”

The collectables are there, like a roller-skating Barbie from the 80s in its original box, selling for about $30. But sitting nearby is a neatly dressed and packaged standard Barbie, selling for $3.99.

“We’re trying to cater more to parents than collectors, but still keep a variety going so everyone can find something,” said Angel. “Fisher-Price is what gets people most excited.”

Sandy points out that the Fisher-Price toys might be 40 years old, but remain popular with modern parents.

“Most of the people that buy this stuff are actually buying for little kids to play with,” he said. “It was just built so well.”

Many people, according to the Kamps, still remember their original Scooby-Doo themed store.

“I’ve had a couple of people walk in and say ‘I am so glad you guys are back in town,’” said Sandy. And there have been a few toys brought in for trade from their original store, including some of Sandy’s old Hot Wheels cars.

“I kept those this time. I’m not going to sell them again,” said Sandy.

Those toy memories are part of why running the store is such a fun thing to do, according to the Kamps.

“Just seeing people come here and get so excited about the toys that were gotten rid of once they grew up,” said Angel. “They haven’t seen it again until they see it on our shelves.”

But, Angel said, nothing compares with seeing the young children coming in and exploring the shop.

“They just love it,” she said. “Kids just love it in here. They have the urge to run through the isles.”

Mystery Toys is located at 101-1027 Westminster Ave. W, and is open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.