15 Sep 2014
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'Favorite Toy Store' Owner: 'Bank Put Me Out of Business'

Sudden closing has residents lamenting the loss of a "great place to shop." Both Elmhurst and Downers Grove stores have closed.

'Favorite Toy Store' Owner: 'Bank Put Me Out of Business'

—By Lauren Traut and Karen Chadra

Originally posted Friday, Jan. 3, 12 p.m. 

A beloved local toy store with locations in Downers Grove and Elmhurst was unexpectedly shuttered Dec. 30—and few are more heartbroken than owner Mike Geisen. 

Geisen said he had no choice. The closing is a result of bank action pertaining to his longterm business loan, he said. The bank took a lump-sum out of his business checking account, to cover what was left of his loan. The withdrawal left him without sufficient funds to operate. His lawyer advised him not to incur any additional costs at the store—and so he closed up shop immediately. 

The doors were closed and locked Dec. 31, and will remain so. Social media has been buzzing with the news of the abrupt closing.  Patrons who call the stores this week will hear the following message:

"Thank you for calling My Favorite Toy store. I'm sorry, but we are closed and will not re-open. I apologize for the short notice. I had no choice in the matter."

The bank, which Geisen chose not to publicly name, declined comment. 

Many of the stores' 12,000 active customers are quite disappointed to hear the news. Geisen, whose Downers Grove shop at 5137 Main St. ran for 12 years and Elmhurst location for 8, has been fielding their calls for days. Many have questions about gift cards recently issued at the store. Unfortunately, Geisen said, there's no way he can honor those cards. 

"There are going to be a lot of bummed DG kids and moms," wrote one fan of the store, to Patch. "It was a great unique toy store. We were lucky to have it here in downtown DG."

"This was my favorite place to get unique birthday gifts for my kids and their friends," another fan wrote. "So sad! The staff and owners are very nice people and always willing to help you find a great gift. It's a big loss for DG."
The Downtown Downers Grove Management Corporation also expressed its sadness over the closing.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and certainly, the heart of our Village's downtown," the association said in a statement on its Facebook page. "My Favorite Toy Store has become a centerpiece of our downtown merchant mix and has became a destination for all ages.

"The Downtown Management Corporation exists, in part, to be advocates for our Downtown businesses. But the very nature of business, and in particular small family businesses, is that there are daily challenges—some which at times can become extreme. ... Our Village is better for having shared this time with My Favorite Toy Store."

No one is more disappointed than Geisen. 

"Hands-down the best part about the business was talking to customers, helping people find the perfect gift," he said. "People would come in, find a special gift, and walk away smiling.

"I know there will be kids running down the street ahead of their parents, and they'll pull on the door handle, and it will be locked. And that just tears me up."

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