Let's Play Again toy store opens in Gresham
It all started with a toy — well more accurately it started with the desire for a toy.
Growing up Jose G. Ramirez loved all things Star Wars, and he desperately wanted a model Y-wing. For those not in the know, Y-wings are a classification of starfighter that famously joined the bombing runs against the Death Star in the original Star Wars film.
"Every year I asked my parents for a Y-wing, but I never got one," Ramirez said.
Decades later he stumbled across that very toy while perusing eBay, and his passion for collecting and admiring toys multiplied.
"One toy became two, then five, then too many," he admitted with a laugh.
Eventually Ramirez and his understanding wife Azucena had a 10-by-10-foot room filled with all sorts of toys and collectibles, pop culture treasures that sparked nostalgia and imagination. But then the 2008 economic crisis hit. First Ramirez lost his job, then car, then his house.
"But we had those toys that we could sell to stay afloat," he said.
Beginning with online marketplaces, Ramirez made $8,000 the first year, and then more than $22,000 selling all those toys he had been collecting.
"We survived, I went back to work, but we both liked the idea of selling toys," he said.
Now the couple have made that dream into a reality by opening Let's Play Again in downtown Gresham. The store, 20 N.W. Second St., specializes in buying, selling, trading and recovering previously-owned toys, dolls, plushies and more. At Let's Play Again, your inner child comes to life.
"My father always viewed toys as nothing more than useless pieces of plastic, but to me they are so much more," Ramirez said. "This place is something I want to share with people — others can find those dream toys they always wanted as a kid."
Toys are a way that Ramirez connected with his own son, who was at one time non-verbal autistic. The pair would build with Legos, and eventually they started sounding out words.
"The first thing my son said was I love you, and he took off from there," Ramirez said. "Other kids need something to spark their imaginations."
The shelves at Let's Play Again are filled with Barbie and Bratz dolls; collectibles from the latest pop-culture phenomenons like Marvel, My Little Pony, and Minecraft; nostalgic action figures from Transformers and Power Rangers; stuffed animals, model lightsabers, lots of Legos; and so much more.
Right now the store is open most afternoons and evenings, with it being a labor of love for the couple who still work day jobs.
"We want to have something for everyone," Ramirez said. "You will come in here and find that thing you have always been looking for, even if you didn't know it."
Let's Play Again
20 N.W. Second St.
5-9 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs.
1-9 p.m. Friday
11-9 p.m. Saturday
11-8 p.m. Sunday
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