It’s a dream come true when the toys you loved as a kid help you make a living today.
Luke Naliborski, 39, of Mascoutah, has been living that dream since Sept. 1, when he opened I Had That, a vintage toy store inside the Collector’s Corner at 2045 W. Highway 50 in O’Fallon Plaza.
The store features toys from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as more modern toys. It’s all the stuff he has gathered in years of buying toys he grew up playing with, he said.
“I called it I Had That mainly because that’s what I said when I went to thrift stores and yard sales looking for old toys,” he said.
Plus, he hears that a lot when people look at his stuff, sometimes not even realizing they are repeating the name of the store.
His dream, to open a store and get away from his daily commute to south St. Louis, where he was a store manager and the marketing and product coordinator for Slackers, coincided with his wife’s dream to have a garage that she could park in.
“The stuff was all tucked away in my garage,” he said. “You couldn’t get a car in there. I think my wife thought the garage would be empty, but this is only about one-third of it.”
But there is hope there will be more room.
“If I sell stuff, I don’t need to order more. I can just go to the garage for more stuff.”
So, his wife has a dream somewhat deferred, but he is living his.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” Naliborski said. “Now I enjoy being at work.”
And why not? He is surrounded by his stuff that he can share with others and make them happy as well. He said people come in and tell him their stories, and he tells them his.
Plus, he can sell his own books. He also is a paranormal investigator, author and speaker and has copies of his books at the shop.
He has a lot of old vinyl music albums, posters, T-shirts, old lunch boxes and merchandise related to horror movies and shows, including “The Walking Dead.”
He is trying something different Dec. 23, when he will have actor Alex Hill, who is from Freeburg, appear from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the store to sign autographs. Hill is a frequent zombie on “The Walking Dead.” The store has some memorable pictures of Hill in full zombie regalia.
At the same time as Hill’s appearance, the Collector’s Corner will have Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals appearing. (Insert your own zombie joke here.)
Always the promoter, Naliborski added, “Christmas is right around the corner. Get yourself the toys you always wanted as a kid.”
More seriously, he said the store is all about Christmas memories and seeing stuff that you may have unwrapped under the Christmas tree when you were young. He often sees people getting emotional.