Life was going great for Cory Searcy.
He had a nice house, a cool car, and his family was financially stable. Raking in upwards of $8,000 a month as a loan officer trainer throughout Texas, Searcy was a successful businessman and father without many concerns.
In September 2012, however the unthinkable happened. Backing out of a parking space, Searcy was hit by another vehicle and suffered a severe spinal injury. The accident rendered him virtually immobile: Searcy had to attend physical therapy and was told not lift more than 15 pounds or to stand for longer than 15 minutes. ‘Even stepping off a curb could have caused paralysis,’ Searcy was told.
But what he lost was more than just his mobility. Following the accident, Searcy found himself on workman’s compensation and lost his house, car and stability.
To make matters worse, the Sandy Hook Shooting took place in Connecticut, adversely affecting his son with special needs. “It took three days to convince him to go back to school” Searcy said, “He was afraid he would be shot.”
‘Violence has always triggered outbursts in my son,’ says Searcy. Things like the media coverage of Sandy Hook, violent movies and videogames and even violent toys could set him off. After the Sandy Hook shootings, it was apparent that something needed to be done, and Searcy hatched the idea of opening a non-violent toy store.
Searcy launched Cory’s Toys and Gifts online in December 2012 and sales exploded. By February of this year, sales had made the demand for a physical location apparent and he opened his first store at 4124 Sherwood Way.
At the beginning of June, Cory’s moved to Park 2400 on College Hills, and by the end of August, it was clear that a single location wouldn’t be big enough. Tentatively scheduled for mid-October, Cory’s second location will be opening in the Sunset Mall.
With the addition of the new retail space, at 7000 square feet, Cory’s is now San Angelo’s largest toy store. The success can only be attributed to Cory’s unique approaches, one of which is not selling violent toys.
“Darth Vader is our most violent toy, and he doesn’t even have a lightsaber,” said Searcy.
Cory’s intentionally doesn’t carry toys that big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target have on the shelves, and Cory’s selection tend to favor the educational side.
“We get a lot of teachers in here,” said Misty Parkin, manager of Cory’s Toys and Gifts, “and a lot of special needs children.”
One of the more special services provided by Cory’s is VIP shopping for children with special needs. The store is closed by appointment so the family can shop without distractions.
“I have had to physically carry my son out of Wal-Mart before; I understand their needs,” Searcy explained.
When it comes to success, the proof is in the pudding. Cory’s sales have increased by 30% each month after his initial February opening.
“If that doesn’t explain a need for what we do, then I don’t know what else does,” said Searcy.
A start-up business that began with just the intent to support a family in hard times, Cory’s has grown exponentially into a highly successful business, but more importantly a business that makes a difference in lives.
“I never would have seen a mom see her autistic child write his name for the first time,” said Searcy, reflecting on how his toy store has changed his and other’s lives. “If that [accident] hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have this.”