A vintage toy store in Carroll County has been selected to be featured in a docuseries that will be releasing this month on Amazon Prime.
Allan Semmont, owner of Eternia Dreams in Taneytown, was selected to be featured in “A Toy Store Near You,” a docuseries from the creators of “The Toys That Made Us,” which was first released on Netflix in 2017.
According to Semmont, the docuseries is about vintage toy stores and touches on how they are surviving the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of our money from purchases through shops is [customers’] expendable income. So, you take that away, then you’re gonna see a lot of us closing down because people don’t have money to spend, so it’s kind of hard to buy, if that’s the case, in that situation,” he said. "So it’s pretty much just to bring attention to the shops, what they’re all about, and then go into everything about toys, why we collected, how we got started, and then I guess a percentage of the proceeds are going to go to us as toy shop owners to help out.”
To get on the docuseries, Semmont had to submit a video about himself, why and when he got started, how his shop is, 10 of his favorite items in the shop, and how COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has affected his business.
Semmont did a tour across the country from Feb. 21 to March 2, driving a truck and a trailer with his store branding, to market his business. He filmed personal collections and interviews with store owners along the way, and he submitted that footage to secure his spot in the docuseries.
“It’s something we’ve been working on — the whole reason we went on that big trip, we bought a camera, we bought gear, we filmed everything,” said Semmont. “The whole goal of our big tour was to try to get a TV show out of it. I think there’s so much involved with all the reality TV shows on TV right now; what goes on behind the scenes like collecting and meeting collectors. It’s incredible, it’s so exciting. So, when I got the information from them that this was really going to happen, I couldn’t believe it.”
The docuseries is scheduled to release, one to two episodes per week, on Amazon Prime Video, Vimeo, and YouTube starting mid-April. The studio behind the docuseries, The Nacelle Company, is considering releasing it on other platforms in the future. Semmont wasn’t certain of the date he will be appearing.
The coronavirus has affected business for Semmont in a variety of ways, including having to close, but the hardest part about COVID-19 for Eternia Dreams, he said, is not being able to purchase collections.
Usually, Semmont receives calls from people to see if there is any value to the vintage toys they might have stowed away in their attics, then they would bring the toy to the store for him to evaluate or he would set up trips to buy collections from all over the country. He can’t do this anymore, with his store being closed, so he’s lost a major part of how he built his inventory.
“We’re super thankful we have such a large warehouse with an inventory that can last a long time, but if we’re not able to go out and get more in, it’s not like we’re a retail store where we can just put an order in and get new [products] — once it’s out, it’s out,” he said.
When it comes to selling toys, Semmont hasn’t noticed much of a difference in sales since he had to close. If anything, business has gone up thanks to the internet.
“It sounds really silly — in the online world, it doesn’t feel like we’re in a panic,” he said. “I’m selling more online now than I did before this happened.”
According to Semmont, toys from “Masters of the Universe,” commonly known for the He-Man character, have been his best sellers during the coronavirus pandemic. Eternia, a planet in “Masters of the Universe,” is where the store got its name.
Instead of more traditional online shopping, Semmont has set up virtual buying for his customers so they can “shop” around the store.
“We FaceTime one-on-one, and I take you through the store like you’re here shopping yourself, and then we just get up a total for you, we weigh it all and then we get it packed up and shipped out,” Semmont said.
Because he ships worldwide, Semmont said he sometimes has calls set up in the middle of the night from customers in Australia and will go to his shop and walk them through in the middle of the night.
“It has been a huge boost in sales,” he said. “It’s been extremely profitable because low employee, you don’t need as many people here, don’t have to worry about someone walking in.”
“If there’s ever a time in the world you should be using your social media, it’s right now; couldn’t imagine not using it,” he said.
Semmont uses his Facebook to have live sales about every three to four days. He uses Facebook Live on the Eternia Dreams Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/eterniadreams, where people can watch and invite others and he holds up toys that people can claim. At the end, he sends everyone their totals, packs up the packages and ships them out, according to Semmont.
Since opening in August, Eternia Dreams has passed 5,000 members on Facebook, and hasshipped to 20 to 30 different countries and almost every state in America, Semmont said.
In the future, Semmont would like to do a behind-the-scenes show, similar to “Pawn Stars,” to show some of the crazy experiences he has while collecting.
“You’d be blown away by what comes in the store,” he said.