“Anything that’s non-electronic, that’s not in front of a TV, I’m in favor of,” Palmer said, explaining that he “used simple toys” in his childhood growing up in Cayce.
And though he whipped out a cellphone to quickly call home so as to be precise about the ages of the four grandkids – two of them 6 years old and two of them 8 years old – Palmer was clear that he sees great value in the toys of yesteryear.
“When I was growing up, our imaginations was what we had,” he said. “How many kids know about marbles?” Palmer said. “It’s amazing how many kids are enthralled by these toys when they get them, just like we were.”
At Mast General, all the toys are retro, said Ruth Smyrl, general manager, so customers know what to expect when they come in.
“The most famous retro toy that we carry is our Sock Monkey,” Smyrl said. “That is probably our biggest-selling retro toy.” Harkening back to really hard economic times in the U.S., people made the now highly-recognizable toy with the bright red smiles out of available, often used, scraps of material.
Fisher-Price toys from the 1960s and 1970s also are featured in the Mast General toy lineup, Smyrl said, including the retro camera, the milk truck, xylophones, pianos and radios, and this year, the Tonka truck. And other classics – such as the standard slingshot and old-fashioned cork gun – can be found there.
“Our toys are a direct reflection of the whole Mast store experience,” Smyrl said, which means taking a deep breath, slowing down, and stepping back in time.
“They serve to get people away from the whole screen experience with toys,” she said, meaning nothing that requires a battery.