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WNC Business

It's My Job: Jeannie McEwen - O.P. Taylor's Toy Store

Nov 28, 2023 09:06AM ● By Randee Brown

Formerly a toy store owner herself, Jeannie McEwen helped John and Susie Taylor open the Greenville, SC location of O.P. Taylor’s Toy Store in 2002.

McEwen and her daughter were having coffee across the street from the Greenville location when McEwen suggested her daughter introduce herself to the Taylors and ask if the owners needed any help. Her daughter not only started working the next day, she suggested her mom come on to help manage the store. After speaking with the Taylors, McEwen was brought on board to help open the store as its manager. 

“I had previously been a national sales rep at AmericasMart in Atlanta, GA where John was a wholesale customer,” McEwen said. “I knew the routine of wholesale selling, knew what to ask and what deals to make, and John knew it was valuable that I understood both sides of the business.”

Over the years, McEwen has worn many hats while working closely with other employees to look after the welfare of each store. Working as manager and district manager at various times, her goal has always been to contribute to the success of O.P. Taylor’s stores.

Upon arrival at a store, McEwen ensures it is clean, tidy, and ready for customers. She changes the display windows at the first of the month, receives merchandise — sometimes hundreds of cases at a time — and unboxes and prices the items, and enters them into the store’s inventory system.

Between those tasks, McEwen said the first priority is always waiting on customers that come into the store. She said every job has its standard duties, but here she gets to interact with families at some of their happiest moments.

“Families come in at Christmas time and on birthdays, or when kids have been saving their money and finally get to come in and dump it on the counter to see what they can buy,” McEwen said. “We get excited right along with them. Our job is to make sure they feel excited to be there. We’re really custodians of childhood magic.”

McEwen said the Taylors still have magic in their eyes when choosing toys. She talks with them about what toys their grandchildren are into, what toys are being played with in school, and what trends are popular at different times, then orders are focused heavily on those types of items. 

O.P. Taylor’s also offers many extras like gift wrapping, batteries, and help with carrying packages to customers’ cars when needed. They’ll offer scissors to customers so kids can start playing with toys right away, demonstrate new products, and show off the latest toys that have just arrived. McEwen said they create an experience that is more than purchasing boxes off a shelf, and these experiences are what lead customers to return to the store again and again.

While fun and excitement are high priorities in her position, McEwen said there are some challenging moments. Summer camp and Christmas seasons create a “tsunami of freight,” especially in their Brevard store. Having so many cases of freight arriving daily to unbox, price, and put up for sale while keeping aisles clear and maintaining their high level of customer service can be a challenge, but it is important to her to make sure everyone that comes in has a good experience.

“Campers come to Brevard from all over the country, and for many families, a stop at O.P. Taylor’s is a family tradition,” McEwen said. “We want to keep the magic alive for each member of these families to pass on, and it’s our responsibility to make it a good experience for everyone.”

As a grandmother of 13, McEwen said working at the toy store is far more enjoyable for her than retirement. She gets the benefit of having meaningful, relevant conversations with her grandkids about toys and what they’re into, and unpacking freight and moving around in the store keeps her physically fit.

“I don’t thrive in front of the TV,” McEwen said. “Working here keeps me young because I’d much rather be up and out seeing people than sitting back; I’m just not that type. It’s far more enjoyable to be at the store and part of the activities. I don’t see the point of retiring because I’m already doing what I want to do, so why would I stop?”

Jeannie McEwen is the District Manager/Business Developer at O.P. Taylor’s Toy Store. Learn more about O.P. Taylor’s at