Take a Trip to the Lost Cantina in a Neighborhood Not Far, Far Away

Midtown is hiding a secret toy store pulled straight from another galaxy

The rumors have been spreading for a while now, orange stickers on light posts and street signs from Summer Avenue to South Main. Here and there, vigilant Memphians could see signs of something mysterious, something new—The Lost Cantina.

Ever one to seek out the lost, dusty corners of our city that somehow fall off of the tour maps, I set out in search of this fabled establishment on a recent autumn afternoon. 

What I found was no bar. 

shop owner holding a vintage Star Wars character helmet
Joe Sills

Hidden Star Wars toy Store In Memphis

Tucked away on the discrete, vine-encrusted corner of Harbert and Bellevue, I found a set of stairs with a cityscape of Tatooine. 

This was the store I was looking for. 

A short jaunt up the stairs put me face-to-face with a life-size stormtrooper, a bounty hunter and an astromech droid. These are the costumes that the cantina’s co-owner, Terry Ryan, wears to visit sick children around Mid-South hospitals. “It’s gut-wrenching,” Ryan admits, while welcoming me into the heart of The Lost Cantina Toy Store. “They are excited to see you, but they are really sick.”

Ryan’s store is one fit for the heart of a child, one that would make any fan of science fiction sparkle with joy. 

Star Wars LEGOs kits on a shelf in a store
Joe Sills

Two Memphis Toy Collectors Turned Star Wars Store Owners

Ryan and co-owner Brian Spiker merged their extensive Star Wars memorabilia collections into the dazzling array of action figures, x-wings, tie-fighters and Corellian cruisers that decorate the walls of this small but utterly charming ode to childhood about a year ago.

As Ryan begins to tell me the story of his store, a customer lets out an audible squeal from the backroom; elation driven by the discovery of a long lost toy from their youth. “That happens a lot,” Ryan says. “That’s the juice. That’s what it is all about.” 

For the most part, the store has been operating mostly under-the-radar of mainstream Memphis. Their only marketing, Ryan says, are the free stickers that they hand out to each customer, whether they buy something or not.

And though the store began as the brainchild of two toy collectors, items at The Lost Cantina can be about as affordable as they get. The cantina keeps a five dollar bin of well-worn relics (I spotted a trio of musicians from Mos Eisley for a five spot) along with slightly more rare items, like a vintage R5 droid for $40.

Star Wars character pilot helmet
Joe Sills
Star Wars vintage toys on a shelf
Joe Sills

Ewoks, Blasters, and Lightsabers at Lost Cantina Shop

Many items, most of which I haven’t seen since my own childhood, still crackle with the same kind of allure they once held when they were new. Entranced by the possibility of purchasing so many toys that were denied to me as a child, I followed Ryan around the store as he showcased bits and pieces of our shared, cultural youth. Above the register, a gallery of replica helmets lined the wall as if he and Spiker had pillaged the aftermath of an Ewok party after the Battle of Endor. 

Below the counter, a handmade and very heavy replica of Han Solo’s blaster emerged, as did a lightsaber made for dueling that Ryan himself has taken a few hits from. And below a play area with out of the box (!) Spaceships and land speeders, Ryan pulled out a prop-quality replica helmet that would have precisely fit the costume department on “The Force Awakens.”

Star Wars toys on a top shelf, including the character Darth Maul
Joe Sills

Memphis Gifts For Star Wars Fans

“We have everything from five dollars to hundreds of dollars,” he adds. “This helmet was weathered professionally, and you can’t buy it anymore. They company went defunct even though they were making good stuff. Some people waited five years to get what they ordered.” 

For Star Wars fans looking for to travel light speed down memory lane, The Lost Cantina is the only hive of scum and villainy to head for. You won’t find any real bad guys inside, just a couple of Memphians with a toy collection from a galaxy far, far away just waiting to steal your heart. 

Where to Find it: 620 S. Bellevue. Park around back and walk upstairs. 

Hours: The Lost Cantina is open most weekends from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The best way to check hours is via their Facebook and Instagram pages.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Joe. I’m a Memphis-based journalist covering travel, adventure and exploration around the globe. I’ve lived in a haunted house in midtown, slung bootleg t-shirts in Soulsville and covered Memphis hoops from high school to the NBA. When I’m in town, you can find me searching for the stories that make the people of Memphis come to life.

Most Memorable Memphis Moment: 

Watching Zach Randolph hit a series-clinching three over Tim Duncan before a sold out FedExForum overflows onto Beale Street on a night when downtown is alive with the rhythms of Grizz Line and the buzz of Music Fest on the river. It was either that or rapping along with Project Pat, sitting court side with a retired Z-Bo and getting a fist bump from 8-Ball on the same night.

Build Your Prefect Memphis Meal:

Does it get any more Memphis than Central BBQ nachos on house chips? You gotta go for the brisket (trust) with jalapeños and a banana pudding to cap it all off for desert. In a dreamland, though. It’s like this—take the pepperoni pizza from Hustle & Dough. Overlay it with a heap of pulled pork from The BBQ Shop. Walk a few miles along the river at sunset before putting the final layer on this meal with an elusive slice of peaches and cream from Cheesecake Corner.

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Arlene Spiker

Brian is my son and I’m very proud of him for keeping his collection from the day the very first Star Wars movie opened. He played with them for several years but would ask for them for Christmas presents every year after that and not open the package. 

December 16, 2022 9:06pm
Bob Rowan

There is an interesting documentary that was on recently called The Toys That Made America. One of the segments was about the movie studio, approaching toy makers about supplying the Star Wars toys. One toy maker turned them down. What a mistake!

December 17, 2022 8:03pm