The first Disney Store opened on March 28th of 1987 in Glendale, California. It reached its peak of success in 1997 with 749 locations operating worldwide. Fast forward to 2021 and the Disney Store shuttered its last location sometime near the end of that year.
If you want your Disney merchandise fix now, you’ll have to order online or visit a Target Store near you! Or spend thousands of dollars and take a trip to one of Disney’s Theme Parks around the world.
Or do what I did, and buy your own Mini Disney Store and open for business:
I built my own ‘brick-and-mortar’ location, out of plastic, in just over an hour. Of course, I bought this handy kit from Walmart, which made the process so much easier:
This box has what I believe to be a typo. It says, as a tag line: “Build, Store & Disney your MINI DISNEY BRANDS Collection!” Should that not read “Build, Store & Display“?
Back to the construction of my store, when I said ‘easy’, I meant just short of tedious! As you will see in the pictures below, there were a lot of little pieces contained in multiple packs. Sometimes you had to go hunting for pieces as the instructions for assembling something wouldn’t always stick to parts from one pack.
If you have assembled any Lego sets, you can handle this! But be careful, as some of the pieces are quite small and can be damaged if you assert too much force when pushing them together.
I’ll share my likes and dislikes at the end of this post, but for now, enjoy the finished product:
This really is a very detailed ‘store’. You have the cash counter, the line area, a Princess Castle, and many shelves to stock your Disney Mini Brands onto. The fun factor here is off the charts! I added the shopping cart, basket, and some extra shelves, from a different set. But more on that soon.
That was basically my likes. My dislike is that they bait-and-switch you a bit. On the front of the box, you are shown a completely assembled display with every spot on the base filled. But that’s not what you get! No, you have to look on the back of the box to learn that you will have to buy more capsules to find the remaining shelves needed to complete your ‘store’.
Let’s look at that little detail from a financial standpoint. Each capsule costs $12.99 CAN at a local Walmart. They can be as high as $17.99 CAN at specialty shops. I have purchased 10 capsules up to this date at a total cost of $146.79 after taxes. In those capsules I only got one shelving unit! To complete the Mini Disney Store, you will need an additional 6 shelving units. So, doing the math, that would mean that if the distribution of shelving units in capsules remains constant, you would have to spend an additional $880.74 CAN to finish building the ‘store’! A ‘store’ that initially cost only $39.95 CAN.
I’m not doing that.
But you may notice that my store is mostly completed with 4 of the 6 optional shelves installed. How did I do this? Facebook Marketplace to the rescue! I found a lady who was selling a Mini Brands MINI MART display set for just $20.00 CAN. It came with 4 of the shelves I needed, albeit in a different colour from the ones in my set, but for a total savings of $860.74 CAN, I’ll live with that!
Disney is notorious for making loyal supporters fork over extra money once they buy into one of their product lines. Review what happened with the Disney Infinity gaming system for the most relevant example to this post. Just scroll down to the end of the article in the link. Now Zuru seems to be telling Disney to ‘Hold my beer!’ as they force honest consumers to fork over way too much extra money when they are already going to rake in the profits on multiple capsule sales to fill the shelves of these Mini Stores anyway! Not cool, says I.
But let’s end this post on a high note. I recently purchased a Disney Store Cast Member shirt which was worn in the 2000’s at several Arizona locations. Have a look:
Laura, the lady I purchased this unisex shirt from worked at the Arizona Mills location in Tempe, AZ in 2005. Starting as an Assistant Manager, she worked her way up to Manager of the San Tan Mall location in Gilbert, AZ. She ended her time with the Disney Store in July of 2011 when the location at the Fiesta Mall in Mesa, AZ closed its doors. I’m happy to add it to my growing collection of official Disney Cast Member costuming!
Now for a last look at where I’ll be working:
Many patrons complained that the Disney Store was not as good as it once was when it finally came to its end. I myself found less and less to buy there but still ended up with some awesome merchandise from time to time. As you can see, the selection in my store is also rather limited. I’ll blame the supply chain like every other retailer!
I’m happy to have a little piece of the Disney Store legacy in my home!