Toni's Collectibles is a family-owned business that began in early 1997, when then-11-year-old Amanda asked her mother, Toni, if she could have some beanie babies. A few months later, Toni was standing in line at a store, with a Peace beanie dangling from her shopping bag. Someone walked up to her and offered her $100 for the beanie. Toni began to think there might be a business opportunity here.
By the fall of 1997 Toni was buying beanies and selling them first through classified ads, then on the internet, and finally through beanie and doll shows. Nearly every weekend Toni and her husband, Frank, went off to sell at shows throughout Northern California and as far afield as Reno and Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Alex, then 13, got involved in buying and selling beanies on the internet--through the Ty website and eBay. Young Alex became a master trader, beginning with the day he said, "Mom, there's someone in New Jersey who wants to buy more than $5,000 worth of beanies. Is it OK?"
Attendees at the beanie and doll shows regularly said, "you've got such a great selection of products, you ought to open a store." So in April of 1999, we did.
Upon opening our store in Walnut Creek in 1999, our product offerings quickly expanded. While the "beaniemania" of earlier years soon disappeared, Toni's Collectibles continued to sell beanie babies, along with more than 70 other lines which we represented as an authorized dealer. Our lines came to include such industry leaders as Steiff, Annette Himstedt, Madame Alexander, Marie Osmond, Robert Tonner, Masterpiece Dolls, The Doll Maker, Harmony Kingdom, Trail of Painted Ponies, Cow Parade, Bearington, Lenox, and many others.
In early 2005, Toni's Collectibles moved from Walnut Creek to a larger store, located in Danville, CA. This store, 1650 square feet, was in a shopping center known as the Danville Livery, one of Northern California's most beautiful shopping centers.
In March 2009, we moved again. We had discovered that more than 80% of our business was coming from website sales, and we needed a much larger space. We needed to consolidate everything under one roof, so we moved to Pleasant Hill, where we had 7,440 square feet of warehouse and showroom space just off Interstate 680. Finally, in February 2011, we moved our business to Kalispell, MT. Our son Alex, having graduated from the University of Montana and chosen to live in Kalispell (adjacent to Glacier National Park), expressed an interest in working full time with the business. Toni and Frank, wanting to have more free time, agreed to move the business to Kalispell, with the understanding that Alex would manage it and gradually acquire ownership. We now have a 5100 square foot warehouse at 460 Ash Road in Kalispell. Toni and Frank are continuing to work with Alex, but they are remaining in California.
Toni's Collectibles is a labor of love. Before starting this business, Toni worked in sales, first in department stores and specialty shops, and subsequently selling advertising to business owners. Frank taught international relations, wrote numerous articles and books, and directed research projects at Stanford University until 1981, when he started an international computer distribution business, which grew to have offices in Southeast Asia, Australia, and China. As he gradually retired from that business, he spent much of his time helping Toni with her accounting, developing and maintaining this website, and with customer service. In late 2011 and January 2012, Alex and Frank worked to upgrade the website, reflecting advances in website technology since the site's launch in 2003.
Toni's business, in her weekend shows and in her store, grew because she cared about her customers and provided extraordinary personal service to them. She has been exceedingly knowledgeable and always eager to help customers find what they are looking for. We aim to do the same with this website. The products we sell may not be the essentials of life, but they bring joy to their collectors, and that makes this business fun.