A Star Wars fan and member of the 501st Legion costuming organization visits Time Zone Toys in full stormtrooper attire earlier this year.

Courtesy of Dave Bazan

The entire front of Time Zone Toys' new store in Meridian is lined with Star Wars figures, books and memorabilia.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hits theaters Thursday, and the craze for Star Wars stuff has been growing all year, store owner Dave Bazan said.

“Star Wars is everywhere right now,” he said.

That's a big shift from when he opened the original Time Zone Toys store in Boise more than three years ago.

“When I opened my shop, Star Wars didn't really move, it didn't sell,” Bazan said. “It was more G.I. Joe and Transformers, and Star Wars was that old movie my dad likes or my uncle likes. And now, you can't even buy Cheerios without it being Star Wars.”

Time Zone Toys has one of the largest selections of Star Wars items in the area, Bazan said. He even took some of his staff to the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, in April to run a booth and exhibit vintage Star Wars figures.

“Everyone was blown away that this place in Idaho has awesome Star Wars (collections),” Bazan said.

For Bazan, the new movie release means more than just a boost in sales. The new movie brings up memories of his childhood and provides a bridge between his generation and his 9-year-old son's.

“I'm 43, so I grew up in the Star Wars generation,” he said. “In '78, I was 7 years old. That was one of the first movies I saw, and I remember having my Star Wars toys. I'm really excited. I kind of got emotional when the trailer came out. We were at the Star Wars Celebration. … There were grown men crying and grown women crying when they played it, but it was pretty cool because there were a lot of kids there with their parents.”

Bazan said he and his family plan to go see the move opening night.

BUILDING A COMMUNITY

One of Bazan's biggest passions with his store — and a factor that drove him to open a second location in Meridian in November — is teaching kids how to perform yo-yo tricks and compete in contests. Bazan traveled the world in his late 20s, competing in yo-yo and spin top competitions. He even won the world spin top championship one year.

He opened a few yo-yo shops in Texas and California — where he also founded one of the largest ongoing yo-yo contests, the Bay Area Classic — before moving to Meridian to start a family.

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Jeremiah Bazan, 9, practices yo-yo tricks at Time Zone Toys, a store founded by his dad, Dave Bazan. The stores Meridian location hosts weekly yo-yo workshops.

Bazan runs a free yo-yo workshop from 5-7 p.m. each Wednesday at Time Zone Toys in Meridian. Early next year, he plans to start a Kendama class — another skill toy — on Friday nights.

“It's something I think I can grow here,” he said.

Some of the students Bazan has mentored have gone on to be successful in major competitions and perform in front of huge crowds at professional sporting events. Bazan said he talks to the kids about performing with professionalism, about marketing and about running a business. Some of his former mentees have gone on to open their own yo-yo shops or become hugely successful with online marketing, he said.

“You get kids that might not be outgoing or into sports or into other things that get a lot of attention, but with yo-yoing, it's cool to see the confidence come out,” he said.

Bazan's son, Jeremiah, is getting ready for the upcoming Pacific Northwest regional yo-yo contest in Seattle.

Bazan hopes to grow the class, which he said is informal in nature and gives the kids a chance to interact and hone their skills. He has plans to fly Sean Perez, one of the top yo-yo performers in the world, to Boise to work with the students, possibly in January.

“Boise, Idaho, will become another hot bed for yo-yoing,” he said.

CONNECT WITH TIME ZONE TOYS

Meridian location:

  • Free yo-yo classes each Wednesday from 5-7 p.m.
  • 3163 E. Fairview Ave., No. 175 (by Red Robin off the corner of North Eagle Road and East Fairview Avenue)
  • Store hours: Monday – Saturday, 12-7 p.m.; Sunday, 12-5 p.m.

Boise location:

  • 2945 E. Chinden Blvd.
  • Store hours: Wednesday – Friday, 2-7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12-5 p.m.

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