Jayden Frost, a Singer for '80s Pop Band When In Rome, Runs a Vintage Toy Shop in DFW
Frost with '70s Godzilla, featured on the Travel Channel's show "Toy Hunter"
Under a circular blue awning in Lewisville lies a fairly unmarked store with generic white letters reading, "DFW Vintage Toys."
The change of worlds stepping inside is jarring -- it's like walking back 30 years and into your childhood. The mastermind behind DFW Vintage Toys, Jayden Frost, is serious about the '80s. Previously, he was the vocalist of '80s band When In Rome (he was their sole touring vocalist, though, somewhat confusingly, he didn't write huge single "The Promise," which made an appearance in Napoleon Dynamite). '80s nostalgia runs through his veins.
His shop, which is only a few weeks old, is not just a toy store for young kids and birthday requests; this is a heaven and a haven for vintage action figure, comic book and toy connoisseurs. DFW Vintage Toys is a hub for passionate toy collectors.
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A grown man walks through the doors and looks around. "Can I move in?" he asks.
Frost opened DFW Vintage Toys less than two months ago. He says it's Dallas' only vintage toy storefront. And while music is still his primary passion -- he has a solo project now -- he always had the idea for a vintage toy store in the back of his mind.
"I always knew I wanted to open a store like this," Frost says. "I just thought it would be later on in life, around retirement."
'80s collectible action figures Skelator and He-Man
But here he is in Lewisville, just a few years after selling out large venues across the country with When In Rome. His ticket into the band came through his friendship with Michael Floreale, original When In Rome band member and co-writer of "The Promise." Floreale, a British native, moved to Dallas when the band initially broke up. In 2005, Frost released his first solo effort Blue. His old friend Floreale produced the album and played on it.
In 2005, an agent in California contacted Floreale wanting to put When In Rome back together for a few shows. The two original vocalists from the band were in England and weren't interested in reforming the band. After hearing Floreale and Frost's work on Blue, the agent asked Frost if he would join the group as lead vocalist for a few shows.
A few shows turned into a 37 show tour around the country.
"It was the coolest thing in the world," Frost says. "I had always told people I was born 10 years too late. Then I got to be an '80s pop star in my thirties!"
Frost toured with other '80s pop stars such as DEVO, A Flock of Seagulls and Debbie Gibson during his time with When In Rome. Frost had a particularly close relationship with the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls, Mike Score.
"Mike was like a father to me in the music business," Frost says. "I respect him more than anyone else."
When In Rome separated in 2006, but Frost continued his music career, DJing at clubs in Dallas. For the last year, he has been a part of of an '80s new wave duo tribute band called Retro Pop Academy. He was performing 40 songs a night at clubs and bars every weekend, but had to stop roughly a month ago after losing his voice due to possible nodules on his throat. And that gave him the time to open DFW Vintage Toys, which may yet prove his most successful venture.
Though music has always been priority, Frost's hobby for vintage toys was his first love. This last year has been the first time he has settled down in one place, and that made it his first chance to capitalize on his toy store dream.
DFW Vintage Toys' collection is detailed, plentiful and colorful. To the naked eye, the store may look like a cluster of action toys, but the collectables are organized into sections. G.I. Joe, Star Wars, He-Man and Transformers make up the largest divisions.
Since opening in April, Frost says customers have been coming from all over DFW and the state to check out what the store has to offer.
"A guy drove up here from Austin because of the pictures he saw on Facebook," Frost says. "He bought a He-Man Castle Grayskull in box unopened from the '80s. Someone had sold it to me here in store, and had been keeping it in a climate controlled storage for years."
Collecting old toys has always been a source of joy for Frost, but it has its strange moments he feels a little strange about -- sometimes he finds himself on the end of transactions people would rather not be making.
"People come in here with investments for cash they need now," Frost says. "I have had people come in selling their collections to get money for surgery or to pay a bill."
This weekend the Dallas Comic Con will take place at the Irving Convention Center for its 19th year. Frost plans to keep his store open until 10 p.m. this Saturday night to accommodate the influx of vintage toy fans in Dallas this weekend. He anticipates a lot of buying and selling to go on within the store.
DFW Vintage Toys is already seeing regulars trailing in and out of its doors. It helps that people have known about Frost's toy commerce since last summer.
"I started last year in a 10 by 10 storage space," Frost says. "I rented one of those U-Haul storage units and decorated it like a toy shop. I advertised it on craigslist and people made appointments to come see what I had. Some of the same people who came to my little storage unit come to my store now. They see I've come a long way."
Frost used the revenue from his storage unit business to fund and build inventory for his current store. Just two months ago, DFW Vintage Toys was still in storage.
"I had so much stuff in my storage unit, I just saw an opportunity," Frost says.
Frost used Facebook to share his hobby turned business with the world. DFW Vintage Toys' Facebook page already has three thousand likes.
In February, he released a new single called "Girlz." He plans to work on completing a solo album over the next year.
"Music is still number one," Frost says. "I still want my own hit with my own name. I have too much experience to quit, I'm still young."
Frost is currently in the process of opening a private recording studio in the same building as DFW Vintage Toys.
As for the future, Frost sees no limits. Ultimately, he would like to see DFW Vintage Toys become a national chain, alongside pursuing his music solo career. His passion for the '80s seems to transcend in both his toy entrepreneurship and his music. Frost has a lot of energy and a lot of dreams, and does not plan on stopping anytime soon.
"Last year, I was selling toys in a tiny 10 by 10 storage unit," Frost says. "Now, my overflow is in a warehouse. I don't think super far ahead, you only live once. I just do what I got to do day-by-day."
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