Teddy bear quest brings film crew to Langley toy store

Several members of the Purdy family had a date on Dec. 2.

Despite the hectic schedules that befall the holidays, Matthew Purdy’s family came together for a special viewing of the Langley entrepreneur’s film debut.

Little did Purdy’s mom expect that she’d get so engrossed in the storyline of the new Christmas flick, that she’d be equally shocked and delighted every time she saw her little boy (now 39) or his Langley toy store pop up on her television screen throughout.

“She was a pretty proud mom… That was my favourite part of… and it was pretty humbling,” Purdy told the Langley Advance the day after its release.

Purdy’s Toy Traders and GameStars shops both play prominently in Jingle All The Way 2 – a FOX movie released straight to video the same day as the Purdy viewing party.

And, in addition to multiple appearances of both stores and Purdy, Langleyites will again recognize several other familiar locales in this $5-million movie, including Fort Langley’s Cafe Planet Java (a 1950s-style diner), the historic Fort Langley Community Hall, and numerous shots along the village’s main drag.

Jingle All The Way was a blockbuster hit back in 1996 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a harried father on a quest for a Turbo Man action figure for his son.

In keeping with that theme, this sequel starring Larry the Cable Guy as a divorced father trying to out shine his eight-year-old daughter’s new stepdad – who just so happens to be rich. Similarly to the original movie, this dad is on a quest for a toy – this time the talking Harrison Bear – which is the only item on his little girl’s Christmas wishlist.

Purdy described the entire filming experience as a “gas,” and said he’d happily do it again, not for money but for the exposure it offered his business.

Film crews converged on both his shops on the Langley Bypass – primarily Toy Traders – for the better part of five days in March.

“I can’t believe it. There were cameras, wires, people everywhere,” Purdy said, noting that a camera track was run the length of the store to shoot one scene where a crowd of buyers stormed the store for a last-minute chance at a bear.

The film crew, he added, fluctuated between 45 and 55 during the shooting, and tents were set up throughout the parking lot to accommodate the crowd of people.

“I didn’t realize the crew would be as big,” Purdy said, noting that in a windstorm one night the tent providing cover for the extras literally blew away. He quickly offered up the game store – currently across the parking lot from the toy store – for shelter and remembers chuckling when he entered a short time later to find his staff and most of the extras engaged in various games.

Originally, Purdy wasn’t too keen on being part of the movie.

In fact, just a few weeks before filming began, a location manager approached Purdy about using the store – and was all but turned away.

They offered him money and said he’d have to shut the doors for several days. What was being offered wasn’t enough to cover the loss of business, the annoyance and inconvenience for customers, and several lost days of work for his staff, Purdy said. And shutting down the shop was out of the question.

Admittedly, he said he wasn’t really interested.

Besides, he’d never been involved in shooting a film before and had heard nightmares from some other people.

In past, Toy Traders was profiled on a few reality television shows, but never in a movie.

The director and writer of the movie, Alex Zamm, came out for a visit and with some persistence and compromise a deal was struck, Purdy said. Among the concessions, Zamm agreed to keep the shop names and Toy Traders could remain open for business through most of the filming – much to the producer’s displeasure.

Purdy said the exposure for his business was great, and he even enjoyed making a few cameo appearances (no talking roles) as Jerry. He can be seen in the background several times over stocking shelves, helping customers, and ringing in sales.

The toy store staff in the movie adorned actual Toy Trader shirts, and with much of the store’s branding remaining in place, Purdy said set crew decked out the store with a plethora of Christmas decorations and plunked extras in odd spots around the shop to cover up any product lines in the store where licensing rights could become an issue.

“It was an absolute blast doing the movie,” Purdy said, noting he’s already talking with the location manager and other members of that crew – who he has since befriended – about using his new Toy Traders store for more filming.

This spring, Purdy is relocating just a few hundred feet away (beside Princess Auto) to a 14,000-square-foot space that will allow him to triple the size of his business. In the midst of gutting and redesigning that new space, he’s even taken filming needs into consideration, now hoping his store can be used again for more movies.

“It was a lot of fun. I’d do it again,” Purdy said. “I was thrilled with it.”

Copies of the movie are on sale at Toy Traders and other retailers in town. But Toy Traders is the only place people can see one of the actual Harrison Bears from the movie (still in its box and covered with autographs from all of the cast and crew). It has been added to a large plexi-glassed display case in the store – right alongside Purdy’s pride and joy life-sized R2-D2, C-3P0, and Yoda figures.

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