Richard and Deborah Seaton have transformed a hobby into a business that benefits so many.
A visit to Toy Town Antiques is like taking a trip back in time. Owners Richard and Deborah Seaton have collected vintage toys and period furniture for two decades — and their stores in Snow Hill and Berlin are beautifully filled with an array of eye-opening collectibles. Locals and visitors of the Shore alike frequent both locations year-round to marvel at their impressive collection of antique games, trains, figurines, furniture, advertising, Americana and more. Each item, or set, is also meticulously showcased with like items, which serve only to enhance the sense of nostalgia.
Richard’s collection began due to his fascination with TootsieToys, which were one of the first diecast series of cars available in stores. Not to be outdone, Deborah loves to collect antique monkeys of all types. The couple has amassed more than 200 items apiece in their respective collections and display a selection in their stores.
One-of-a-kind pieces even occupy space atop support beams or hang from the rafters of Toy Town Antiques. In Snow Hill, a rare Buddy L train set resides high above the center of the store, and a 1980s life-size, bi-wing plane, (which Richard discovered in a Salisbury barn), proudly hangs toward the back. Fully functioning today, it appears to be soaring through the store and serves as another inspiring reminder of what makes Toy Town Antiques so special.
The array of vintage items available at Toy Town is vast. Special-occasion collectibles are showcased, as well, including rare Christmas, Easter and Halloween-themed items, which rotate by season.
Notably, a majority of the items on display in Snow Hill and Berlin were acquired from customers looking to sell their collections or those of a relative, and clients travel from one end of the Eastern Seaboard to the other to find rare items they covet for their own collections.
“We receive calls multiple times a day, every day, from people wanting to sell things, and the calls are becoming more widespread,” Richard said, noting their recent acquisition of an impressive antique humidor from New York City and a client who drove from North Carolina in October to sell items of interest.
The Seatons feel an immense sense of pride not only in how far their business has come but in how their customers provide ancillary benefit to the Snow Hill and Berlin communities that have embraced them.
Story by Victor Fernandes and Jon Westman
Photos by Grant L. Gursky
Pressed Into Service
Popular toys from Buddy L, like this 1920s pressed-steel Buddy L ladder truck, originated when automobile-and-farm-equipment manufacturer Fred Lundahl decided to make a new, durable type of toy for his son, Buddy.
Take Your Best Shot
This wooden target game, made by R. Bliss Mfg. Co. in the 1890s, was one of the most sought-after games of its day at the turn of the century.
Reach For The Sky
From Superior Toys, this mint-condition 1950s tin litho-target game comes complete with space gun and darts.
This is a diecast reproduction of a 1957 Corvette convertible. The real model debuted with Ramjet Fuel Injection, which at the time was the most advanced performance feature ever offered on an American production engine.
King Of The Rails
Founded by Joshua Lionel Cowen in New York City in 1900, Lionel trains are arguably the most famous of any brand in the world. This model is from the 1980s.
Chance At History
This fully functioning claw machine, made by Novelty Merchantman in the 1930s, originally delighted countless children and adults alike as a game of chance played in an iconic arcade on the Ocean City Boardwalk.