By WARREN L. WISE, Post and Courier
MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (AP) – At 9, Elizabeth “Schnookie” Royall was doing her after school homework in the back room of a Mount Pleasant toy store while her mother, Posie, worked.
Twenty-five years later, Royall – now Darby after getting married – is the owner of Wonder Works.
Company co-founder and longtime owner Christine Osborne recently sold the 31-year-old East Cooper store in Darby so Osborne could spend time with his aging mother and five grandchildren and travel. with her husband, Wayne. She will also be a guest speaker for budding entrepreneurs at the College of Charleston.
The terms were not disclosed.
Osborne still owns the location in the Charleston City Market, but Darby will oversee its operations.
Osborne felt that turnover “a wand of the wand” for a business she often referred to as “magical.”
“It has been ‘wonderfully fantastic’,” she said. “That pretty much sums up the last 31 years. We did so much magic and we developed it into a unique toy store. … The kids grew up working at Wonder Works, and now they have kids. It’s a bit like an inheritance.
Osborne said she is leaving the business in good hands.
“Schnookie went through it all with me,” she said. “She’s seen my successes and my failures, and she knows all about the business. She has always been boots in the field.
Darby feels “honored” and “excited” to follow in Osborne’s footsteps.
“I had no idea it was my childhood dream, but I’m so glad it became my childhood dream,” said Darby, now 34 and a mother. “It’s been in business for over 30 years, and I want to see it for another 30 years and see another generation of kids grow up in the store. “
Darby has held just about every position in the store.
She became an official employee at the age of 15 and worked there during her college studies, traveling from the University of South Carolina to Columbia on weekends and working during her summer vacation.
In 2007, she transferred to the College of Charleston and continued to work in the store. The following year, Darby became Deputy Director before becoming a full-time Director when she graduated.
When Wonder Works expanded to the Town Market in 2011, Darby opened and managed the downtown store while also managing the Mount Pleasant location. She also added the Senior Buyer to her duties, while handling staffing, hiring and training shortly thereafter.
The following year, she was appointed COO, overseeing various functions.
In 2017, she decided to try her hand at something new and joined the Toy Travelers Rep group as a sales representative in South Carolina and Georgia.
“I knew it was like a year of work, it wasn’t for me,” Darby said.
The following year, Osborne asked Darby to return. Darby agreed on one condition: that Osborne sell the business to him.
Osborne squeezed his hand and accepted. The store owner started fixing the issues, then COVID-19 came to delay the transaction until this year.
The business started in 1990 when Osborne and Dan Morrisey opened the toy store in a 1,275 square foot space in Northcutt Plaza, near Coleman Boulevard.
“I wanted it to be about science and Dan loved telescopes,” Osborne said. “But our spouses said it would be too old-fashioned, so we added some nature with anthills and butterflies and so on. We started with battery-less toys like kites and science kits.
The store quickly grew and added new offerings over time.
After Morrisey’s death in 2007, Osborne sued the business.
By that time, the store had expanded to a second location in 1995 at the St. Andrews Center in West Ashley and the East Cooper site had moved to the Belle Hall Mall on Long Point Road.
After Osborne expanded to the city market with a third store, in 2012 it added a store at Freshfields Village in Kiawah.
Just before COVID-19 hit in early 2020, Osborne closed the West Ashley store, claiming that a move a few years earlier to a larger space doomed the store because it no longer faced traffic on the street. ‘highway 17.
A few months later, she closed the Kiawah store, citing its seasonal business in the summer and noting that she was focusing on the remaining locations in Charleston and Mount Pleasant.
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