An exciting new business has arrived in Pawling with the opening of The Imperial Castle Toy Shop. Located at 33 East Main Street, the store features a wide array of toys and collectibles that are sure to delight visitors of any age. With this endeavor, owner John Ragusa is bringing his lifelong passion to the community.
Imperial Castle boasts a selection of toys spanning from vintage collectibles to the most current trends. Regarding the newer inventory, Ragusa is adamant about offering the latest popular items for his customers. “I had a chance to go for aged merchandise,” he says. “But I want everything to be current. I want people to be excited each time they come here.” The new toys at Imperial Castle will constantly be updated with an expert appreciation of the newest trends in children’s entertainment. Current items include the latest Lego building sets, Fingerlings, the Princess collection, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Shopkins, Littlest Pet Shop, Brickheadz, and items from the Minecraft collection.
Imperial Castle will also specialize in vintage toys. Classic Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe and countless other action figures will stock the shelves.
The business will also include consignment and appraisal services, offering competitive purchase rates or favorable sales percentages. Ragusa’s aim is to provide a safe, low-pressure environment to help buyers and sellers arrive at the best price for their items. “People are very hesitant when it comes to consignment,” he says, “because they’re worried about getting low-balled. I don’t want to create that kind of environment.” In addition to a passion for toys, Ragusa has experience operating a toy authentication website, which attracts an extensive network of fellow collectors.
The store is also stocked and decorated with items from pop culture, including Harry Potter, Stranger Things, Star Wars, and Dr. Who. Some of these will include pre-production memorabilia, as well as Comic-Con exclusives. “When you deal with pop culture enthusiasts and serious collectors, you have to be genuine,” says Ragusa. “People will expect you to really know your stuff, and that’s exactly the type of experience that they’ll get here.” Passersby will notice a five-foot Star Wars Tie-Fighter in the window; visitors might also get a chance to see his robot assistant, BB-8.
The idea to open the Imperial Castle Toy Shop was a lifelong dream that came to fruition for Ragusa in a very short period of time. Employed in sales at Sprint Nextel for almost 17 years, he decided that the time had come to pursue an endeavor that would truly satisfy him. “Opening a store like this has always been my dream,” he says. “This kind of stuff has always made me happy. So I went from six figures to action figures.”
A Pawling resident since 2004, Ragusa and his wife have two children who attend Pawling High School. The couple had often remarked that the storefront on East Main Street would be an ideal location for the business. When he decided to leave corporate America behind, his family encouraged him to follow his dream and bring the Imperial Castle to their hometown. “They believe in me,” Ragusa says. “Especially my wife, Ginger; she’s been incredible. This would have never happened without her support and help.”
Following the grand opening on December 1, Imperial Castle Toy Shop already has big ideas for the future. Ragusa wants to continue stocking the store with pop-culture memorabilia and collectibles, and he is putting plans in motion to form a kids’ Lego Club as well as a Trivia Night and a space to host Dungeons & Dragons gatherings. The establishment also boasts a 1500-square-feet basement, which he plans to turn into Lego-, Star Wars-, and Harry Potter-themed rooms for activities and birthday parties in 2018.
With his passion for toys and pop culture, John Ragusa and the Imperial Castle Toy Shop appear poised to become a successful part of the creative local merchant community. His longtime friend and former supervisor John Lyons spoke of the new entrepreneur: “You couldn’t ask for a guy with more integrity, attention to detail, and passion for this kind of thing.”
For more information, visit ImperialCastleToyShop.com online.