As I got older, the store changed and sold sporting goods instead of toys; it could not compete with the pricing and demand of the larger chain toy stores. The large toy stores had plenty of toys, but no heart. They lacked the enchantment of the owner/manager who knew everyone, the hands on exploration of toys in the store, the unique educational toys and games that only a small toy store could carry, and of course, that small tent. The magic was gone.
Last week, I rediscovered the magic. I had a chance to visit The Doll House & Toy Store in Scottsdale, the oldest family-owned miniature, doll, and toy store in North America. Walking in the front door was like walking into my father's store when I was a child. The store has educational puzzles, games, crafts, and dollhouses, distinctive items you only find in a small locally-owned toy store, including many I played with and my son has played with. The owners, Sam and Sari Powell, call the customers their children, and according to Sam, We are more than just a toy store, its a haven for families. We sell more than toys, we give customers a good feeling experience.
Sam and Sari started The Doll House & Toy Store in 1977. After four moves in the Phoenix area, they now reside at their largest location on Scottsdale Road, which includes a Playtime Oasis, a large gated area where parents can bring children up to age five, to play with interactive toys in a safe and clean environment. Sari has a background in early childhood education and makes certain the store features developmental toys and activities that foster imagination, uses cause and effect, logical thinking, and hands on activities that make use of fine motor skills.
I want the kids to think they are having fun without realizing they are learning, says Sari.
The Doll House & Toy Store offers a free story time each week, educational classes for school-age children, and even wraps gifts free of charge. Sam and Sari usually know the customers so well, they are able to suggest a gift for a child or grandchild they know will be enjoyed.
You dont get that at a large toy store.
Neighborhood Toy Store Day is coming on November 8th!. Take the time to find an independent toy store in your area, support a local business, and bring the magic alive for you and your children again. To find an ASTRA toy store near you, visit the store finder http://www.yourneighborhoodtoystore.org/default.asp
About Julie Cohen
Julie Cohen is a full-time writer, editor, and publisher of A Little Bite of Life, a deliciously witty food, travel, entertainment, technology, and (teen) family lifestyle blog. She resides in Phoenix, Arizona.