By James B. Bartle
Bruce and Lorraine Barnes, owners of the Antique Toy Museum and Gift Shop, 2426 South Service Rd. East, Stanton, is set to close at the end of the business day on Nov. 1, pending any sale of the business.
The Barnes began the business with a museum on wheels with a tractor-trailer unit and then brought the business to Stanton for some 21 and a half years in the former Stuckey’s Restaurant. Prior to the museum, the Barnes operated a trucking and excavating business in St. Louis for 21 years before selling that business.
Why close the business or sell out?
“To be honest with you, my wife looked at me and said, ‘Bruce, all of our friends have either passed away or retired, it’s time,” said Bruce Barnes. “I have to agree with her, it’s time, and 21 years seems to be our magic number.”
The Antique Toy Museum opened in Stanton on May 10, 1987, with some real excitement. Barnes stated it wasn’t long after the museum opened that the former Windmill Restaurant caught fire.
“All I could think of when the mill caught fire was, there goes our business up in flames,” said Bruce Barnes. “Luckily, it didn’t get to our building.”
Barnes has been collecting toys for more than 45 years and the local business has been toured by millions and millions of people in over 21 years. A daily log book has been kept of every visitor to pass through the business.
“We’ve had people in here literally from all over the world,” said Barnes. “Route 66 and being on this historic roadway has made that happen.”
The Antique Toy Museum is located in a 40’x100’ facility complete with a two bedroom apartment and a tractor-trailer unit that was the first version of the historic museum.
“When we first started, we were sponsored by Mack trucks and we traveled to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a number of malls, convention centers and the Houston Astrodome showing our museum,” said Barnes.
The Antique Toy Museum is a travel down memory lane for all ages and truly brings out the child in every person that has visited. Many toys date back to the 1890s and up.
Inside, you can find The Beetles in two different toy settings; a 1940 walnut stock double-barrel Daisy BB gun and one 1962 plastic stock version to which Bruce called double trouble for kids; a 1954 Superman collector doll; a rare 1930’s Lionel cookstove for children that would heat to 500 degrees; various antique trucks and cars; a number of other toys; and what Bruce calls the most pleasured item for visitors, a Mrs. Beasley doll.
“You know, there are toys in here valued at thousands of dollars and everyone raves about a doll that’s probably worth a $100 now, the Mrs. Beasley doll,” said Bruce Barnes. “You know, it’s been a lot of fun around here and, to be honest, toys are still a good investment.”
The business has been featured several times in the Independent News through the years as well as being published in the Post Dispatch, the former Globe Democrat and all St. Louis television stations.
When asked if he was going to miss the business when it closes or sells?
“I think that day will be just another day, but I will confess I have shed some tears over some of these toys, but I’ll get over it,” said Barnes.
The Antique Toy Museum is open one more weekend before it closes, possibly for good. It will be open Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
“We have some people interested in purchasing the business, but there is nothing final at this point,’ said Barnes. “Anyone interested in purchasing the business may call me at 636-795-2727.”
Barnes looks forward to his farewell weekend this weekend and would like to welcome everyone to come down the memory lane of toys one more time before it closes.
Antique Toy Museum And Gift Shop Closed on Nov. 1
By James B. Bartle