Monkey's Uncle independent book, toy store readying for business

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 19, 2013 

Monkey's Uncle co-owner Joe O'Brien is photographed with a few of the items for sale at his store on Friday. The independent book and toy store will be opening soon at 808 Bay Street.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr Buy Photo

  • Joe O'Brien is literally a big kid in a toy shop.

    On Friday, he ran around Monkey's Uncle, the toy and bookstore he is opening in Beaufort, pulling toys from shelves and boxes to show them off.

    "Smell this," he said, holding up a brown cardboard carton of plastic ice-cream cones.

    A cautious sniff proved it did, indeed, smell sweet.

    O'Brien and his wife, Elizabeth, are co-owners of the independent toy and bookstore they hope to open in a week at 808 Bay St. Antiques and Such vacated the space in June when it moved next door to 802 Bay St.

    This is the couple's first foray into retail. Elizabeth O'Brien is a teacher at Riverview Charter School, and Joe O'Brien has been a newspaper copy editor, an attorney and a car salesman, among other occupations.

    But the new business complements what they enjoy most -- spending time with their 9-year-old son, their 6-year-old daughter and their friends.

    "A lot of this is just a reflection of our personality and what we spend a lot of time doing," Joe O'Brien said.

    The O'Briens joined the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association and attended a conference where they learned about the independent toy makers that will provide the bulk of their merchandise.

    In addition to some popular brands like LEGO, and Melissa and Doug, Monkey's Uncle has toys made from recycled milk jugs by Green Toys in California; creative building and connecting toys from OgoSport in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Corolle dolls styled in France.

    "We're trying to offer different things that reflect that it's an independent store," Joe O'Brien said. "And I think a lot of people want a different shopping experience."

    Monkey's Uncle will have stations where kids can play with the toys, and a resting nook for parents and grandparents to catch their breath.

    Information: 843-524-6868,

    In other changes about town:

  • Sweet Dreams, Sewn Seams & Jelli Beans will have a soft opening Saturday with special hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a 10-percent-off sale. Regular hours will be 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The store, which specializes in personalized gifts, is at 1115 Boundary St. in Newcastle Square in Beaufort. A grand opening will be the second weekend of August; details will be announced as the event nears.

  • Information: 843-524-SDJB (7352),

  • The new 10,000-square-foot Dollar Tree at Robert Smalls Parkway and Burton Hill Road, in front of Lowe's, opened this week. It replaces its previous store beside Walmart in the Cross Creek Shopping Center.

  • Terra Cotta, 216 West St., Beaufort, is moving to a larger space at 95 Factory Creek on Lady's Island. Lowcountry Running Co. LLC formerly occupied the location but closed in June.

  • Information: 843-525-0183

    Follow reporter Erin Moody at

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