Livingstone & Cavell Extraordinary Toys to close doors after 27 years in 'appreciation of the eccentric'

A lot has changed since 1992.

Toys, for example, were a different animal pre-Walmart and Amazon. Walmart would purchase Woolco in Canada two years later, in 1994, and Amazon was, well, not a thing.

"There were a lot more handcrafted toys," Edward Cavell told CBC News.

Cavell and his wife and business partner, Donna Livingstone, opened a niche toy store on Kensington Road in Calgary 27 years ago, wondering if their museum art backgrounds would translate to an eye for the next best toy.

And Livingstone & Cavell Extraordinary Toys was born.

"We settled on a nostalgia concept from the get-go," Cavell said.

Jocelyn Boissonneault/Radio-Canada

"Nobody needs to compete with places like Toys "R" Us and Walmart. They've got that area covered really well. We can do something unique and different and singular, and we've done that. We were a little more arts-based than most businesses, because we came from a museum background."

The couple shared a passion for quirky things.

"We had some great British automata, wooden toys that you turn a crank and they do something. They were really quite eccentric and wonderful things."

Jocelyn Boissonneault/Radio-Canada

And over almost three decades, you end up seeing some faces again and again.

"We have young parents who come in and say, 'Oh, my parents bought all my toys here and I grew up with all this stuff.' We are into second and sometimes third generations now, and that's really kind of heartwarming," the 71-year-old said.

But a perfect storm of events has made semi-retirement an offer they can't refuse.

Jocelyn Boissonneault/Radio-Canada

They weren't eager to commit to another long-term lease. Another business was very interested in the space. Livingstone had accepted a job in Banff and the pair felt the store was such a personal expression of themselves, it wouldn't translate well to new owners.

"The shop is our baby," Cavell said.

Jocelyn Boissonneault/Radio-Canada

"It's a reflection of our creativity and appreciation of the eccentric. Because it's such a personal thing, it's tough to step back, but also, it's time. Everything comes to an end."

The goal is to have the store pretty much empty by Dec. 24, but Cavell says the doors could be open to wrap things up a few days into the new year.