If you passed by Tuesday and saw the long line of customers, you would never think the iconic Corona del Mar landmark is on the verge of sinking.
Hundreds of people crowded the store on East Coast Highway as part of KFI AM 640's Cash Mob to help keep the , which is facing financial difficulties due to rent increases and the struggling economy, open through the purchase of toys. As of 5 p.m., 621 toys had been sold.
"It's been here for 50 years," Bill Handel, a KFI radio host, told Patch. "To see this thing go under is a heartbreaker."
Corona del Mar resident Dee Rand brought her son, Max, to buy a toy during the cash mob.
"This is his favorite store, because of the choo-choos," Rand said. "For the past two weeks, I've been buying stuff for him and I don't get very involved in things but I did for him because he loves it here."
Rachel Phelps drove to CDM from Irvine to buy a birthday present for her child after reading an article about Toy Boat's struggles with money.
"I grew up in CDM and we always support small businesses. We love this store," Phelps said. "I hope that a lot of people keep coming."
Many customers walked up to the register with their arms full of toys, with the average purchase ringing up at about $80. Many of the toys were left in a donation box for Children's Hospital of Orange County.
"We want to support local businesses, especially somebody who is trying to do something for the community to give back to children's hospitals," said KFI listener and Dana Point resident Victoria Vanderberg, in reference to the CHOC toy donations. "Now that we know where it is and how nice it is we will stop by more often."
While the store will remain open today and Wednesday, owners Lori and Mike Curtin, say they will have to count up all the sales and decide if they have made enough money to stay in business.
"It's emotional. I've cried several times over the last few years, but these last few days has been really hard," Lori Curtin said. "I am hopeful though."
"It's one day at a time but we hope to be here for a long time," Mike Curtin added. "We hope to restock the shelves."
While the owners were busy selling toys throughout the day, Handel spent the afternoon talking to customers, taking live radio calls, signing autographs and taking pictures with his fans all in hopes of helping Toy Boat stay afloat.
"It's about supporting small businesses, it's really important," Handel said. "There is nothing more important, this is where people get hired, this is what America is about."
If the toy store earns enough money to stay open, the owners say some changes will have to be made in order to thrive.
"We are going to work with someone to help us," Mike Curtin said. "We know that we need to, we are at a critical point right now."
The Toy Boat store also got a helping hand from CDM's Bristol Farms. The store donated cases of bottled water and a cheese and cracker platter for customers to nibble at while they shopped.
Toy Boat is located at 3331 East Coast Highway in CDM and can be reached at 949-673-3791 or on Facebook here.