When Yikes Toys opened up shop in downtown Tucson nearly 30 years ago, Patricia Katchur made a habit of stopping in to pick up some “goofy” goods.
A mask here, a T-shirt there, a few random finger puppets and a wind-up duck on a bike are among some of Katchur’s coveted finds both from the store’s original downtown location and where it now resides on Broadway Boulevard, near Country Club Road.
As the year winds down, however, Katchur — then a customer, now the owner — has decided to close the shop’s doors.
With consumers turning more and more to the internet to satisfy their quirky needs, and pop up shops sprouting up around town on a regular basis, it has become more challenging for Katchur to keep up the brick-and-mortar location, which was opened by Hazel Rugg in 1989.
The local toy shop has long been known for “having a million crazy things,” said 52-year-old Katchur, who took over the business in 2010.
But all of it — from the books, to the science-themed products, to the art materials — are carefully curated by Katchur to create a distinct flavor described as “goofy, fun and high intellect.”
For a single person, that labor of love is all consuming and Katchur, who also runs the Sunshine Shop — a mid-century modern furniture store — says the workload is no longer ideal for her.
She is hopeful, however, that a third-generation of owners will come along and keep Yikes alive.
“Yikes has extreme potential,” Katchur said, saying she believes it would be a viable opportunity for a couple looking for a new adventure. “I’ve traveled a lot and there aren’t a lot of stores like it — it’s pretty unique. The groundwork is there. Yikes has a built-in market — there are people who will come — I’m just at the end of my road.”
If a buyer fails to surface, however, Katchur wouldn’t rule out reviving the business in a different form down the road.
“I think an online store could be fantastic, or even a holiday pop up once a year,” she said. “Retail is just in a completely different place now. I think the concept of a retail shop that’s renting with employees is disappearing.”
It has become more attractive, and financially sensible, to instead operate a pop-up shop with no overhead costs, Katchur said.
“You just go and set up, sell, and pay a booth fee or a percentage of what you’re selling,” she said of the pop up model. “That seems to be where retail is going: online and pop up shops.”
Such models, Katchur said, allow entrepreneurs to avoid the seasonal lows that small businesses often fight to survive.
“I make almost half of my money between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the end of the year,” Katchur said. “The finances are difficult and when you have people working for you, you can’t tell them to take the summer off.”
Without consistent support, other small local businesses will fall, she added.
“As a local business, small retail stores are not going to be around — you’re not going to have the option of a small retail store — in a few years if you don’t support them on a consistent basis,” Katchur said.
‘THREAD IN THE COMMUNITY’
While the fate of Yikes’ future is unclear, the years Katchur has spent at the store have been impactful.
“We’ve been a real thread in the community of Tucson and it’s the customers who have kept Yikes going,” Katchur said. “It’s knowing people and working with people and being part of the community that has been really wonderful.”
Hoping to close this chapter of her life on a good note, Katchur invites the community to stop by Yikes Toys, 2930 E. Broadway, through the end of the year, and possibly into the first few weeks of January.
Store hours through Christmas are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
After Christmas, normal store hours will resume, closing at 5:30 Monday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.