The Raggedy Ann doll looked like a child's outgrown treasure.
The doll's red curls were a bit faded and her dress was slightly worn. Despite her less-than-new appearance, though, Raggedy Ann's lovable features could still capture a child's heart.
"As long as a toy does what it's supposed to do, people don't complain if a paper is scratched off or it has crayon marks," said Andrea Rogers, owner of Toy Traders of Gaithersburg.
Selling secondhand toys at half the original retail price was the brainstorm of this mother of two who turned her frustration at having to give away old, usable toys into the energy behind Toy Traders. Rogers, 28, opened the store in September.
The idea of buying and selling secondhand toys is catching on, judging by the steady stream of customers through the store on the bottom level of the Quince Orchard Shopping Center on Darneston Road.
Hanukah, Christmas, the shrinking value of the dollar and the rising price of toys all have combined to help along Rogers' dream of owning her own business.
Inside the store that Rogers, her husband G. R. and brother Lewis Bloom remodeled are shelves of secondhand toy bargains.
She buys toys each Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. What she pays depends on the toy's condition, but usually is about 25 percent of the cost when new.
The toys are spruced up, if necessary, and sold.
"I think this is terrific," said Peggy Fallon, of Gaithersburg, who purchased $25.40 worth of toys for her two pre-school-aged children. She estimated that, by shopping at Toy Traders, she spent less than half the amount she would have paid for the toys new at a retail store.
"The kids don't care if a box is a bit dented, especially not the younger kids," she said.
Pat Conway, of Comus, was looking for toys suitable for her infant grandchildren. "I'm a typical grandmother, spoiling them, at prices I can afford," she said.
Conway bought a bell-shaped music box for 79 cents and a child's shape-sorting toy for $3.49. She said the toy cost half what it was priced in an area department store.
The used-toy store, while a boon to parents on a budget, is a dream for a child. Riding toys are on the floor to give youngsters a chance to "test drive." A neat sign says, "Please do not handle toys," but the rule is neither obeyed nor enforced, giving children and parents alike a chance to see how something works before it is purchased.
Rogers does not permit returns. The toys can be resold to the shop, but another sign reminds customers, "These toys are going around twice. No returns to make it thrice."
Sandy Hoch of Poolesville, a mother of five, called Toy Traders "a marvelous idea. With everyone running into tight money, it's especially good." Hoch planned to comb her attic and bring in toys to be resold.
Rogers said the games and toys she purchases do not necessarily have to be complete or in working order. Before opening the store, she stockpiled toys and collected hundreds of game pieces to replace those missing from the toys she acquires. She also buys broken train sets for parts.
Rogers keeps up-to-date on toys deemed unsafe, she said. Older toys are usually sold to toy collectors.
She is optimistic that her business will continue to grow after the holidays.
"There're always birthday presents to buy," she said. "Here, for example, you can spend 59 cents on a party favor and get a really nice toy."
Major credit cards and checks are accepted at toy traders. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Through Christmas, the store is open on Tuesday and Friday nights until 9.