It’s Saturday morning and you have a party for a five yr old boy to attend.”Caden” (fictitious name) is in your son’s class and you’re not sure what he’s into but your son says “dinosaurs”. You could make a frantic Target run or you could call your local toy store and be greeted with
“We know Caden! It’s his big day today huh? His favorite toys are the xyz Raptors. Jonah already got him the blue one but we’ll wrap up the red one for your son to give to him. We can meet you curbside. What time will you be by?”
Sound like a fantasy? Not for me. I’m fortunate to live near an excellent independent neighborhood toy store. The owner takes pride in finding the coolest products to share with his customers, and knowing who they are and what they like. When their is a birthday party or special event, he helps track who got what. He wraps gifts beautifully. He runs fundraisers and workshops and community events. I think the local toystore, more than almost any shop in my town, is what has made this place feel like a real community. My kids, as much as they love big stores, are more thrilled to visit our local toy store where they can play at the train table and be welcomed by name. We find out about the newest and best toys there, long before they become common and hit the mainstream. Some of our favorites never have shown up with mass retailers that focus on larger brands and licensing. We’d never know about these toys if not for the neighborhood store.
Neighborhood toy stores may be fewer and farther between these days but you don’t have to give up on finding one in your area. YourNeighborhoodToyStore.Org launched this September as a resource for families interested in learning more about the best toys on the market and where to find them.
The new website is a one-stop resource that connects parents with local toys stores and also specialty toy makers and industry experts. Their mission is to bring back the “WooHoo!” factor – the delight, joy and excitement of finding and playing with the best new toys.
It’s a site worth bookmarking before the holidays and referring back to all year round. You’ll find:
- Expert advice and articles on toys and play for kids of all ages
- Up to date info on creative and educational toy play and trends
- A handy store locator that tells you where to find the best toys in your area (shop local!)
- A calendar of local toy related events
- Toy buying guides for kids of all ages and a special section for shopping for children with disabilities
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by ASTRA – the America Specialty Toy Retailing Association. I’m thrilled to be sharing this information for a number of reasons – no least of which the fact that my local toystore has saved my life on more than one Saturday morning. As a small manufacturer myself, I love working with independent and creative brands. I’m constantly blown away by people’s creativity, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. My opinions are my own as usual and that opinion includes shopping local and supporting community businesses. Get out there and discover yours!