Couple Will Keep Beloved Toy and Book Shoppe in Play

Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK Local residents Andy and Kelley Carpiac are the new owners of San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe, which Betty Takeuchi ran for decades before retiring. “It’s very exciting,” Kelley Carpiac said.
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Local residents Andy and Kelley Carpiac are the new owners of San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe, which Betty Takeuchi ran for decades before retiring. “It’s very exciting,” Kelley Carpiac said.

San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe is sticking around, thanks to its purchase by a young and enterprising local couple.
Under the new ownership of Andy and Kelley Carpiac, the storied business that began 44 years ago will reopen in April after it is remodeled and restocked. The two purchased the business from founder Betty Takeuchi in February after she announced she was retiring and closing the store.
Kelley Carpiac spoke to The Outlook recently as she prepared for next week’s ToyFest in Las Vegas, where she planned to hunt for contemporary offerings that would share shelf space with tried-and-true classics at the San Marino shop. That its shelves were empty testified to the loyalty of customers responding to its closeout sale.
“As you can see, they sold everything in the closing sale and we are starting fresh,” she said. “It’s very exciting.”
Local shoppers will find familiar faces at the store, because Carpiac said she and her husband would retain most of the current staff. Indeed, longtime employees Linwood Tabata and Candace Moreno were helping plan and sort things out last week.
“They’re staying on, which is great,” Carpiac said. “They’re kind of helping us rebuild the stock and all of that.”
The Carpiacs, who have three sons (two at Valentine Elementary School and one in a preschool program), moved to San Marino five years ago after living in the Calabasas area. Andy Carpiac works in commercial real estate at a Pasadena office for a Manhattan-based firm and has business experience in private equity. Kelley Carpiac, whose background was in biotech public relations, said she’s been a stay-at-home mom since her children were born.
“We bounced all around Los Angeles trying to figure out where we wanted to settle with kids,” she said. “We loved the small-town feel that we found here.”
Part of that was the very store she and her husband just bought.
“We’ve gotten lots of birthday presents here,” she said. “We’d bring the boys in here before Christmas and they would kind of flag things for us.”
Takeuchi, who started her business in 1975 as a toy shop and later added books, said she decided to retire to help take care of her mother in Fullerton and spend time with her six grandchildren. She said that her bittersweet feelings about retiring and closing her business became sweeter when the Carpiacs wanted to take over and she voiced an enthusiastic “Yay!” when asked about her reaction.
“I was just thrilled to meet them, and that they were willing to carry on the tradition,” Takeuchi said.
“I really appreciated them stepping up and being willing to take over.”
Carpiac said she hadn’t heard of the closing when it was first announced, but was driving past the store when the line outside caught her attention.
“Then I saw the sign in the window saying ‘Closing Sale,’” she said. “The town had been devastated when they heard of the closing. A town like San Marino that supports each other as a community needs this bookstore. The town was almost in mourning.
“I think books are definitely something that are great in a small community,” she added, on what the store brings to San Marino. “And toys, too. It’s not as overwhelming as stores like Toys R Us used to be.”
Andy Carpiac said the response he’s gotten from fellow parents in local teams and organizations has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s her business to run, but we’re doing it together,” he said. “Being a proprietor in the community is exciting. Books and toys are both very feel-good products in bringing excitement to kids. I know people were disappointed that it was closing, but there’s a lot of general excitement that it’s coming back. A lot of people grew up here in San Marino and then moved back later, so for a lot of parents in the community, this place has a special meaning for them.”
The Carpiacs observed that their children are just about the same age as Takeuchi’s were when she founded the business. Takeuchi added that she was looking forward to returning to her store as a customer and bringing her grandchildren along to pick out gifts.
“My children were 3, 5 and 7 when I opened,” Takeuchi said. “I thought it was fun that they
were just about the same ages. I hope she has another 44 years.
I can’t believe it’s been 44 years
already.”

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