When Robin Henschel and her mother, Mary Elizabeth Wagner, opened their first Funtoysia toy store 25 years ago in Pennsylvania, they had a family friend create a distinctive sign for them.
When they moved to Sarasota and opened their second store in 2006 on North Tamiami Trail, bordering the Indian Beach neighborhood, the sign came with them.
“It’s not just a sign,” said Henschel. “It’s part of the family. It’s been with us always.”
Because the sign meant so much to them, they were devastated when it was stolen Christmas Eve.
“When you’ve had this for so long and moved with it, it’s so disheartening,” Henschel said.
The toy-store owners say the sign was so meticulously removed from the side of their building that they believe someone intends to resell it.
“We don’t think it was college kids,” Henschel said.
The 4-foot-by-5-foot wooden sign was carefully drilled out of the exterior wall, so no marks were left behind. The thieves are also believed to have unplugged a spotlight that shined on the sign during the theft.
“My mother gasped as we pulled in on (Dec. 26),” said Henschel. “She said, ‘Where is our sign?’”
The storeowners hope that someone recognizes the sign and calls them. They’re offering an undisclosed reward for its safe return.
“We’re all sweet people,” said Abby Koonce, Henschel’s daughter and store co-owner. “We go out of our way to help our customers. We don’t know why anyone would want to hurt us.”
Henschel said she chooses to look at the good that has come out of the incident.
“The one positive thing (is that) the whole neighborhood is on the lookout,” Henschel said. “That’s why we enjoy being here. There’s this camaraderie."
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