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Final Whistle for Uptown Toy Chain

Bubble bear goes bust.

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The last Manhattan outpost of Penny Whistle Toys, the quirky toy store founded by Meredith Brokaw and a partner in 1978, closed without warning at the end of June. The Upper West Side shop, which outlasted the Madison Avenue and Bridgehampton locations, packed up its iconic bubble-blowing mechanical bear on June 30. “It wasn’t making any money,” says Abel Mendez, the onetime Brokaw deputy who took over the mini-chain a decade ago. “The economy is oppressing.” (One store remains, in Pound Ridge; the decommissioned bubble bears are in Mendez’s garage.) “It’s the end of an era,” says Brokaw, wife of the former NBC anchor. “The doors are shutting, but for literally thousands of kids the memories of bears and bubbles will stay open for a long time.”

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