Ambassador Toys in Palo Alto, one of the last toy stores left on the Midpeninsula, is preparing to close up shop.
The Town & Country Village store has been a destination for just about anyone looking for retro games, books, puppets, crafts and toys for newborns through middle schoolers. The owner is apparently retiring, according to a giant yellow sign posted in the window, which reads: "Retiring. Store closing. Everything on sale."
An employee at the shop, who told the Weekly he learned of the pending closure last week, said he did not know when the store's last day will be. He declined to comment further.
The Palo Alto store is not the only Ambassador site set to close; it appears that all three stores are closing. According to neighborhood news website Hoodline, both San Francisco shops are closing, with one set to shutter as early as Friday, Jan. 31.
Owner Linda Kapnick could not be reached for comment.
Kapnick founded Ambassador Toys in San Francisco in 1997. She reportedly was frustrated with the toy market while shopping for her own children and decided to open a shop with inspiring and nurturing toys that would teach kids about the world around them.
Kapnick opened the Palo Alto site in 2008. During its 12 years at Town & Country Village, the shop was voted "Best Toy Store" or runner-up multiple times in the newspaper's annual "Best Of" edition that ranks the area's best businesses based on readers' votes. Ambassador Toys gained national recognition after The Toy Association nominated it as one of the five best specialty toy stores in the United States.
Palo Alto customers raved on Yelp about the the store's eclectic selection, including old favorites like a Slinky.
"Instead of buying at an 'everything,' big box store, you can come to a place like Ambassador Toys and know that everything has been vetted by the owners as something a kid would like," one customer commented.
Another called the Palo Alto site, "The cutest toy store I've seen in the Bay Area!"
Ambassador Toys is the third notable toy store to close its doors in Palo Alto in the past four years. Educational toy store Gray Matters on California Avenue closed last year, and longtime toy store Palo Alto Sport Shop and Toy World closed in 2017 after operating downtown for 87 years.