San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe Is Here to Stay

Photo courtesy Christine Johnson
Christine Johnson has purchased San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe and plans to reopen on March 1.

There is good news coming from the iconic San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe: It’s remaining open and it’s remaining in San Marino. On Monday, March 1, Christine Johnson will take the keys from the Carpiac family after a brief closure to restock and retool.
“We are excited,” said Kelley Carpiac, who took over the store in March 2019. “As we said when we did this, we wanted the store to stay in the community and we are proud that we can do that. Christine will take it to the next level and I am excited to see what she can do.”
The final day for the Carpiacs will be Saturday, March 20, and then Johnson will give it a go.
“This is great news for everybody: for the community and the children and for play and fun,” said Johnson, who has experience in the field. “This is something we cannot let go of in the community. That is my mission, that kids stay kids. Let the children play and bring a smile to everyone’s face. It’s vitally important right now.”
Johnson previously owned Miracle Mile Toys & Games in Los Angeles, which she described as “a true, classic toy store.” She and her four children — who are enrolled in San Marino High School, Huntington Middle School, Carver Elementary School and a preschooler — moved into the SMUSD and immediately became customers of the San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe.
“We loved going in there,” Johnson said. “I just happen to go into toy stores. It’s something that comes natural to me and something I naturally enjoy. Whenever I go on vacation I just naturally check out the town toy store. I enjoy the retail environment.”
Johnson said she appreciated Carpiac’s attention to personal service, a trait she hopes to continue at the store. She special-ordered a copy of a book and personally dropped by to pick it up.
“I could have ordered it online and had it delivered to my house, but I like the personal touch,” Johnson said. “I think brick and mortar retail is indispensable, especially for children growing up in the age of social media. You have to have a place where parents and grandparents can join together and interact with their children and grandchildren. Every community needs one. Wilshire Boulevard needed that and San Marino needs it, too.
“It’s a little beacon of happiness for everyone. I don’t think you can have a strong community without a strong brick and mortar retail community, and especially a strong toy store.”
Johnson said that San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe’s “personal service is unmatched,” a quality she hopes to take into the store’s next iteration.
“I want us to have a lot of fun stuff,” Johnson said. “A good physical environment is important. It boosts your mood just to go inside.”

Now in his 25th year at The Tribune, Mitch Lehman is Editor and Sports Editor in addition to being the public address announcer for ten sports programs at San Marino High School. Mitch is one of only a handful in the community to receive the ‘Very Special Person Award’ from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founder’s Day ceremony, was acknowledged as a 'Terrific Titan' by the San Marino High School PTSA, was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of San Marino and received a National Honorary Merit Badge in Journalism from the Boy Scouts of America. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in the past three years, Mitch has won seven awards and is a thirteen-time finalist in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. In 2015, the press box at Titan Stadium was re-named 'Lehman's Loft' in his honor. You can reach Mitch at mitchlehman@sanmarinotribune.com.

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