Quite a few years ago, 1994, to be exact, I became a part time Cast Member at The Disney Store in Glendale, AZ. This was back in the day (It doesn’t seem so long ago; in reality it’s been almost twenty years!) when The Disney Store was a destination store; the focus was as much on collectibles and adult merchandise as much as kids’, and plush was relegated to a “mountain” at the back of the store. I was in heaven; definitely a DisNerd’s dream come true.
There are quite a few stories I could tell from that era, from the lady who had the Seven Dwarves tattooed all the way up her leg (yes – ALL the way up), to winning the store and participating in the district level of the Disney Store Trivia Challenge on three separate occasions, to a cast member trip to Disneyland where a fellow CM got caught shoplifting.
But this is a different story. One that began four years later.
I had just been made Stock Captain, which was a glorified term for warehouse manager. However, it was a full-time position (in the world of retail such things can be rare), and I wore that blue polo with honor, just as I did the blue and turquoise cardigan before. I looked upon the position as a jumping off point for a future with Disney.
However, one completely unexpected event changed that.
That fall, as was tradition, The Disney Store brought on its slate of seasonal part timers for the Christmas season. Among them was a girl named Stephanie. Now, I will say up front, The Disney Store did not have an anti-dating policy. But I did. I had decided that I wasn’t going to date anyone I worked with. From personal experience, it didn’t work well. But I liked Stephanie. A lot.
What was a boy to do?
I interviewed for and was transferred to a position with Club Disney, a short lived kids’ play concept from Disney. The day I put in my notice, I called Stephanie and asked her out.
Ten years later….
The powers that be at Disney decided it was time for a change. The Disney Store at Arrowhead in Glendale, Arizona, would be closed for an indeterminate amount of time until a newly remodeled store could be opened in a different location. The store that held many memories for so many people would be closing after 14 years.
So, on a mid-March afternoon, Stephanie and I took our 6 month old daughter to see where Mommy and Daddy first met, as well as to say goodbye:
The Disney Store has since reopened at that mall, and we are, of course, frequent guests. But the old Disney Store….. For some of us, it wasn’t just another store in the mall, it wasn’t just a part time retail job.
It was a place of fantastic memories, some of which are still being made.