Keller-based vintage toy store Empire Toys received a letter from government officials March 22 asking the store to cease operations due to restrictions from the COVID-19 virus.

The store has not been able to open its doors since then, owner Chuck Mahoney said.

Patrons come to the store to get a “nostalgic” feeling and to see old toys, he said. But the majority of clients prefer to test high-dollar items out before purchasing.

“When it comes to vintage toys, the biggest thing is that people have to see it up close,” Mahoney said. “If you’re going to spend $400 on an old Ninja Turtle, you want to make sure it works.”

To stay afloat, the store has broadened its social media reach and has even begun hosting biweekly online toy auctions, Mahoney said. Auctions are held every other Wednesday, and curbside pickup is available for online orders.

“The upside has been the attention from our existing clientele and repeat customers,” Mahoney said. “If were able to physically reopen, even allowing small groups of five or 10 people in at a time—even that would be game-changer.”

Retail stores across Texas will get that chance after Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to reopen the state beginning May 1.

Under Phase 1 of the governor’s plan, all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls are allowed to reopen if they keep crowds at less than 25% occupancy.

“We can’t wait to be able to get back to some form of 'business as usual,'” Mahoney said. “Until then, we are doing the best we can with the situation we are in.”