If you grew up in Denver, you've probably shopped at or at least heard of Kazoo Toys -- or remember the interactive toy store by its original name, Kazoo & Company. After taking on a new space in Cherry Creek North for less than a year, Kazoo Toys is closing up shop, leaving behind the legacy of a well-loved store in an area that's losing a lot of its onetime institutions as the boom continues.
Moving from the spot at 2930 East Second Avenue that it occupied for more than 25 years to the remarkably less visible location at 262 Fillmore Street in 2013 unknowingly proved to be the death knell for the Colorado favorite.
"This location did not work," says Kazoo owner Diana Nelson. "Kazoo is a wonderful family business -- we've been around since 1980. We've had a really good customer base for many, many years. We know how to market well, we have franchise stores, we've got an online store; we've got a lot of really great things. You wouldn't think moving a half a block away would have such a tremendous impact, but it did."
The store owner says her previous landlords planned to completely gut the building Kazoo called home for decades, so vacating was the only choice. "The building is under construction for several years, so there wasn't even an option -- there was no place to go and no place to stay. The location we moved into was what was open in the area at the time."
Nelson purchased the store from its original owners in 1998. At one point, Kazoo was doing so well that it had a home store on Second Avenue as well as another location less than two blocks away inside the Cherry Creek Shopping center. Today, there are still franchise locations in various states and at DIA, and Nelson says Kazoo Toys online is doing great.
Prior to moving from that sacred spot on Second Avenue to the Fillmore location, Nelson says the store did plenty of advertising, covering all the bases to notify its very loyal clientele. For weeks before the move, Nelson ran ads on local radio and television stations and inside national publication Parents Magazine, as well as notifying its 30,000-customer strong list via the mail. Still, less than a year after the move, Kazoo had lost virtually all its usual business, even foot traffic.
Many simply quit coming to Cherry Creek North to shop at all, Nelson says, complaining of the near-constant construction in an area once considered more pedestrian-friendly. The lack of parking at the new location didn't help matters, either.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The store's lease goes until the end of the month, but shoppers and friends looking for one last deal -- everything is currently 50 percent off -- should head to Kazoo fast, since its retail fixtures are set to be auctioned off later this week. Or simply stop by to say a last farewell. Kazoo Toys is located at 262 Fillmore Street in Cherry Creek North -- for now.