Fun-O-Rama interview

CW: So w’ere talking to Morris Greenbaum, the owner of Fun-O-Rama…what are some of your biggest sellers?

MG: There’s no one thing that outsells everything else. People like nudity. Some things that I had go really quick, lke those birds that drink. I had hundreds of those gone. It was a hot seller because everyone remembers it, plus it was in movies lately. It was in the opening scene of Darkman, and it was on The Simpsons. And I had potato guns that went real quick. I can’t get them any more. They came from Hong Kong.

CW: So do novelty items sell better than actual lines of toys like Star Wars?

MG: The thing is that if you get into name brand toys like Star Wars it gets expensive because they’re more collectible.

CW: What is the most expensive item in the store?

MG: Well this Batmobile is $100. It’s battery operated, perfect shape, nothing’s missing. The most expensive item is probably this: the “Space Port”. It’s $500. Unfortunately it’s missing four pieces. It’s from the 50’s.

* * *

CW: Do you have problems with shoplifting?

MG: No, why? Are you guys shoplifters?

* * *

CW: Let’s have a look at the Star Wars men.

MG: Star Wars figures sell real well. If I had thousands of them I could sell them all, but they are hard to come by. They’re four or five bucks, reasonably priced, affordable.

CW: Do you ever get them in boxes?

MG: Never….well, rarely.

CW: How do you go about dating things that are in Fun-O-Rama?

MG: I can judge just about any item within five or ten years. I look at how it is made, what kind of plastic they used, if it has got French and English on it, or if its got a postal code on it. In the late sixties and early seventies we didn’t have postal codes, we had things called mailing codes. There was “Toronto 10” and “Toronto 12” meant you lived up in Willowdale.

CW: Why do you think people buy old toys and things?

MG: We’re selling memories. They come in and say, “I never should have thrown that away” and I say, “If you hadn’t I wouldn’t be in business.” I’m reaping the benefits of a disposable society.

CW: You have to wonder where it all went though. I mean, for every kid who had a ton of Star Wars men, how many are still around today?

MG: Some people are really attached to their toys, and the movie was a big part of their lives…

* * *

CW: What is your opinion of the toys being produced today?

MG: The stuff today is really mass-produced. Mass-production in the 50’s and 60’s was a couple of hundred thousand but mass production today…they have these factories in China and Taiwan that produce a couple hundred thousand per day. And they make it for months and months until there’s billions of that item which sort of spoils the collectibility of it. Plus, there’s not much human element to the manufacturing of the toys. With the old stuff, there’s things that are hand painted — like Barbie dolls, when they first came but the eyes were hand-painted, so no two barbie doll’s eyes were exactly alike. The same thing with jigsaw puzzles — years ago they’d cut them by hand with a jigsaw, so no two had the same pieces.

CW: What’s the most often-heard statement made by Fun-O-Rama customers?

MG: “I had one of those”, or “remember these?”

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