Toy shop that inspired Pixar hit film Toy Story to close after 86 years

Jeffrey’s Toys is closing its doors after helping to inspire Toy Story (Picture: Snap/Rex/Shutterstock)

The toy shop that was the inspiration for Pixar’s hugely successful Toy Story franchise is permanently closing.

Jeffrey’s Toys, the oldest toy shop in San Francisco having been operating for 86 years, announced on Friday that it would shut its doors at the end of February.

Founded and continuously run by the Luhn family in 1938, the brand had a chain of seven stores at its peak.

In the 1990s, current co-owner Matthew Luhn worked for Pixar as a story artist and writer and credited his father with sharing ideas for Toy Story.

Crime and violence in the city as well as a decline in business since the pandemic were cited as factors leading to Jeffrey’s Toys closure.

‘The store has been struggling for a number of years, due to the perils and violence of the downtown environment, inflation, the decrease in consumer spending and the demise of retail across the world,’ the family’s attorney Ken Sterling told the San Francisco Chronicle.

(Picture: Instagram/@jeffreys.toys)

(Picture: Instagram/@jeffreys.toys)

(Picture: BuenaVista/Everett/Rex/Shutterstock)

‘The family is saddened it has come to this and we’ve explored all other options to try and keep the business going.’

Matthew Luhn warned of the hardship Jeffrey’s Toys was facing in December, thanks in part to the $20,000 (£15,736) rent per month for its location on Kearny Street in the city.

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He owns the 86-year-old business – whose patrons have included Arnold Schwarzenegger and Barbra Streisand – alongside his father, Mark Luhn and stepmother, Rosie Coronado-Luhn.

While Matthew knew he would eventually run Jeffrey’s Toys and started learning the ropes as a child, father Mark also encouraged his love of drawing.

(Picture: LinkedIn/Matthew Luhn)

(Picture: Instagram/@jeffreys.toys)

(Picture: Instagram/@jeffreys.toys)

After studying animation he was hired to work on The Simpsons aged 19 before earning a job as one of the 12 animators on 1995’s Toy Story for Pixar.

‘During Toy Story, we would have my dad come to give us ideas,’ he recalled in December to SFGATE.

‘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”.’

Matthew went on to enjoy a 20-year career at Pixar working on films including Ratatouille, Up, Monsters, Inc, Cars and Finding Nemo.

Many other shops have closed around Union Square in San Francisco in recent years, including Uniqlo, Gap and the Disney and Lego stores.

Toy Story remains one of the most popular films that Pixar and Disney have ever produced, hinging on the rivalry-turned-friendship between sheriff Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and space ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).

Spawning a successful franchise, the first Toy Story was nominated for three Oscars and became the highest-grossing film of 1995 in the US.

(Picture: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock)

(Picture: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock)

Toy Story 2 followed in 1999 and is that rare example of a sequel potentially improving on the quality of its already great predecessor.

By Toy Story 3 in 2010, the best animated feature Oscar had been introduced, which it promptly won, alongside best original song and scoring three other nominations.

It was also the first animated film to gross over $1billion (£786.8m).

Toy Story 4, in 2019, was again Oscar nominated and also passed that billion-dollar benchmark.

Unsurprisingly, a fifth movie is now in the works, although 2022 spin-off Lightyear was a flop.

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