As the new owners of the beloved Mr. Mopps' toy store, Devin McDonald and Jenny Stevenson spent more than a few sleepless nights considering their purchase. While maintaining its status as a Berkeley institution, the store fell into disrepair and an air of shabby neglect settled on it.
Its appearance, along with the price tag, was daunting for Jenny who felt that it might be more of a financial undertaking then she wanted to assume. “It took Jenny a while to see the potential and recognize the charm,” McDonald admitted, laughing. “And mainly I just pestered her enough to get her to agree.”
McDonald grew up in Berkeley, just a few blocks away from Mr. Mopps', and had fond memories of visiting the store as a child and rifling through its toy bins. When he heard the owners wanted to sell, he jumped on it, meeting with them to negotiate a sale. “I became obsessed with buying it and I convinced Jenny we needed to get a big-ass loan and do it,” McDonald said excitedly. “Everyone in Berkeley was upset it was closing down and I just couldn’t let it happen.”
Now that it’s a done deal, McDonald and Stevenson seem to have relaxed into their roles as proprietors of the store. “We’re like rock stars in Berkeley,” McDonald exclaimed, smiling broadly at Jenny. Returning his enthusiasm she nods back in agreement. “Yeah, kids yell at us from cars and parents honk as they pass by us,” Jenny said. “It’s really crazy!”
The couple decided to revamp the store’s interior, despite the intimidating expense, repainting the walls a cheery, light-infused blue and cleaning, dusting, and clearing all the surfaces. They are now open on Sundays, and are planning on hosting free weekend events full of fun and entertainment. The store's first official event will be on Sunday, Aug. 27. “The Ukulady will be visiting with her ukulele and Emily Butterfly, a puppeteer with the Big Tadoo Puppet Crew, will be here too,” said McDonald, beaming at Jenny. “That’s really what we want to create here at the store, a sense of belonging and community — and happy things, of course!”