Red Hot Robot's toy story is about to come to an end. Owner Jason Kiningham announced today that the geeky boutique, which sold collectible vinyl toys for more than four years, will close at the end of January.
Like many businesses that have shut down in the past four years, Red Hot Robot's epitaph is one of financial turmoil and economic stagnation. Per a flier posted online, Kiningham stated that the cause of the shop's impending closure is largely financial, but also includes personal reasons as well.
"For those of you wondering why we're closing...this is not a simple question to answer," he wrote. "There are many reasons, some business and some personal."
The largest of which, Kiningham says, is the declining sales of vinyl and designer toys nationwide.
"Collectible toy-wise, the market has been slipping," he says. "When the economy shifted in 2008, people stopped buying bigger toys and started buying smaller ones. It's been increasingly difficult for a store such as mine to offer the really great stuff to customers. Its really tough because some things sell out immediately, like $400 Ashley Wood or Course Toys figures, but a large Frank Kozik doll can sit around on a shelf for a year."
Kiningham plans on returning to the design career he left behind four years ago to start Red Hot Robot.
After working as an art director for local publications like Phoenix Magazine and 85255, Kiningham (who's had a longtime obsession with vinyl toys) started Red Hot Robot in June 2007 in a space next door to Stinkweeds at CenPho's Medlock Plaza.
The boutique had the distinction of being the first Valley retailer dedicated to selling designer toys since the vinyl toy boom began more than a decade ago.
In addition to hawking Kidrobot products and other vinyl collectibles from around the nation and across the world, Kiningham also sold toys by Valley designers on consignment, hosted exhibitions by local artists like Daniel M. Davis, and was a major epicenter of geek culture.
He relocated Red Hot Robot to its current home near 16th Street and Bethany Home Road last March.
Kiningham says he decided to close Red Hot Robot within the last few months and shut down its online store in November.
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He's been liquidating his remaining stock and will return toys being sold on consignment to local designers, selling off fixtures, and turning over his keys to the landlord by January's end.
"I tried expanding into toys and gifts and things, but they weren't really my passion and apart of my vision for this store," he says. "Personally, I think I'm just ready to move on."