San Francisco Shop That Inspired 'Toy Story' Closes, Owner Cites Crime

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January 29, 2024

The San Francisco store that inspired the movie Toy Story will close next month, with the owner citing crime as one reason for its demise.

An attorney representing the Luhn family, which owns Jeffrey's Toys—told SFGATE that "the perils and violence of the downtown environment, inflation, the decrease in consumer spending, and the demise of retail across the world" led to the family's decision to close the store.

Matthew Luhn, the store's co-owner, told the publication in December that the store has experienced people attempting to shoplift and even had someone try to stab one of his employees. Decreased business due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted sales, as did the rise of online shopping and general high operating costs. Luhn said the store pays $20,000 per month in rent.

"We want to stay in business, but we need a healthier relationship with the city," Luhn said at the time. "We’re putting our money in, we’re putting our hard work in, and we’re putting our love into it. But, in the relationship we have with the city, that’s not being returned."

A spokeswoman for the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development told SFGATE last month that it planned to ensure the store was aware of its advisory services and leasing support.

The Luhn family attorney told the Washington Post that the city should "prosecute crimes that have been plaguing retailers for several years, address the houseless challenge, and have more police patrols in the downtown area."

The Luhn family opened the business in 1938 to sell all kinds of merchandise before becoming a shop only for toys in 1953. The family claims the store, which will close Feb. 10, according to SFGATE, is the oldest toy store in the city. The store provided inspiration for Luhn, who was involved with the store practically his whole life, when he did research for Toy Story while he was an animator working on the 1995 film.

"During Toy Story, we would have my dad come to give us ideas," Luhn told the outlet. "And when we did reference for almost all the Toy Story films, we always went to Jeffrey’s Toys. My dad just closed up the store and said, 'Just play, have fun and let me know if you need anything.'"

Several businesses have closed in the city in recent months, many citing a rise in violent crime. Target closed nine stores in blue cities, three of which were in San Francisco, in September "because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance." In August, a 166-year-old luxury retailer in San Francisco said it may close in the next year, lambasting officials for allowing homeless encampments on city sidewalks and the open use and distribution of hard drugs.