Payson's Tiny Toy Store Plans Move To Sawmill Crossing

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Sawmill Crossing has a new tenant, but Payson isn't getting a new store.

Well, not quite, anyway.

Fran and George Yates, owners of the Rim Country Kids toy store since 1995, are moving their establishment to Payson's long-awaited entertainment-shopping-dining complex, where they hope to be peddling their old wares along with some new gift lines by Dec. 1.

"If we could open concurrently with the theater (Nov. 3), that would be wonderful," Fran said. "But more realistically, we're looking at sometime between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Dec. 1. It all depends on when our town permits and building improvements are taken care of."

The Yateses plan to keep their Swiss Village store open until the end of the year "because we can't play games with where we're going to be for Christmas, or if we're going to be open for Christmas.

"This is probably not the best time for this (move) to happen; August would have been a whole lot better," Fran said. "But our Swiss Village landlord, Jim Idoine, has been working with us to make the transition as smooth as possible."

The new Rim Country Kids store will be located in the same building which will house Sawmill Crossing's six-screen, 16,500-square-foot cineplex. Whereas the Yateses merchandise is confined to about 1,600 square feet in the current store, the new space will give them over 2,000 square feet, nicely accommodating their plan to expand into new lines of toys and gifts.

"We're still mulling over all the options, but we do plan to expand our inventory to include gifts for adults," Yates said. "We've found that so many of our customers are adults, and they have created a large collectible market for us. So we hope to become a one-stop shopping outlet for quality, unique and uniquely-priced gifts for all ages.

"But no matter what new lines we end up carrying, we're not going to be another Candle Factory, we're not going to be another Family Mercantile," Yates promised. "What they do, they do really well. But there are tons of other things out there that people still have to drive down to the Valley to get. We want to save them that trouble."

Yates said that she and her husband had been considering the move to Sawmill Crossing ever since the project was clearly going to become a reality. "But we didn't get serious about it until the last 30 days or so," she said.

Set on 14 acres south of Main Street and west of the Beeline Highway, Sawmill Crossing will, in its first phase, consist of three separate buildings on seven-and-a-half acres of the northern portion of the parcel. It will include the theaters and close to 30,000 square feet of retail and office space.

Additionally, three pad sites along the Beeline, and one on Main which would most likely be purchased by chain restaurants are on the market.

Phase Two, the remaining five acres, will be developed "sometime in the near future," Gordon Whiting, vice president of Kaibab Industries, has said.

"We had been looking for an area that would be conducive to our business, and that would also afford us the space we need," Yates said. "Sawmill Crossing gives us that and more.

"We're really excited about the Main Street redevelopment and the exposure that the movie theater will give us. We've also spoken with Gordon Whiting many times, and we really believe that he and his people are really committed to making this work and adding to what Payson has to offer."

On that subject, Coldwell Banker's Bob McQueen, the local contact for retail space in Sawmill Crossing, said that he recently contracted with a State Farm Insurance office to open in Sawmill Crossing, and that he's got "two restaurants in negotiation to go in."

However, one previously-announced restaurant will not be materializing in Sawmill Crossing. Plans for a 2,400-square-foot Mexican restaurant, which had been tentatively named La Casina, have fallen through, McQueen said.

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