Real toy stores of Christmas Past still exist – and they carry HABA toys
Many people find a lot of special things in the movie “Home Alone” and its sequels, particularly the warmth with which these films embrace Christmas.
Perhaps that is no more true than in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” where Kevin happens upon a very magical toy store, Duncan’s Toy Chest, and its proprietor Mr. Duncan who bestows upon the wide-eyed child a pair of turtle doves from the store’s Christmas tree.
Obviously the screen writer, John Hughes, had some nostalgic vision in his head of a long-ago toy store, or at least his idea of what a toy store should be, and with Mr. Duncan in the role of the benevolent elf he offered up his ideal toy store merchant. Duncan’s Toy Chest was warm and wonderful, decorated beautifully for the season, and the lighting suggested chest nuts roasting and the stockings hung by the chimney with care. The toys all appeared to be classics or one-of-a-kind or from a different era – or actually made by elves.
Oh, if we could only shop there.
The truth is we can, at any number of warm and wonderful specialty toy stores throughout the country. HABA USA is proud to be a supplier to many of these “benevolent elves” who undertake the toy business as more of a calling and avocation than merely a job or the department next to housewares.
HABA USA entrusts its toys to scores of such shops all across this country and we invite you to located one near you with our handy store locator on our website. While we can’t feature them all in a blog post for this Christmas season, we thought that highlighting a few of them here would bring back memories of Christmas Past, suggest avenues for Christmas Present, and set the tone for Christmas Future.
Kidding Around – New York City and Montclair, New Jersey
Like Duncan’s Toy Chest, the wonderful shops of Kidding Around are in New York City, one in the Grand Central Terminal, and another at 60 West 15th Street, both historic locations perfect for conjuring up visions of sugar plums. Oh, and there’s a third shop in the offering called Just Kidding Around, out in Montclair, New Jersey (597 Bloomfield Avenue), a place that will speak to the Christmas in any child (and their parents).
The Kidding Around toy shops have been voted “Best Toy Store in New York” by New York Magazine, and “Best Toy Store in New Jersey” in New Jersey Monthly Magazine. When you think about those honors, what with the competition in such an area, the “Wow Factor” simply increases.
The Kidding Around business is now over 22 years old and, as the proprietors, er elves, say themselves, it is a “business centered on quality, value and customer service by offering merchandise selected with experience, knowledge and passion!”
For complete information visit http://www.kiddingaroundtoys.com/.
The Ark Toy Store – San Francisco (2) and Berkeley, California
The Ark, as these three wonderful toy stores are known, takes its inspiration of course from Noah and, as such, has been paring children with high-quality toys since the late 1980s. The operation started in Sacramento, Calif. and was dedicated to providing customers with high-quality wooden, educational and imaginative toys and games that met Waldorf School standards. After a brief stint at another location The Ark settled in a quaint store in Noe Valley, San Francisco in 1997. It is there that The Ark began to expand its offering to include classic and all-around fun toys.
After several years of continued success, The Ark opened a larger location in Berkeley, California and started to carry top-of-the-line, exceptional and heirloom toys. The new mix of toys and games became legendary to the Bay Area and the stores continued to grow. With both stores flourishing, The Ark opened its flagship location in the prestigious Presidio Heights area of San Francisco.
For complete information visit http://www.thearktoys.com/.
jaZams – Princeton, New Jersey
jaZams bills itself as “Fabulous fun for everyone,” and if its website is any measure of that, this could be an understatement. The web is different, imaginative and an open invitation to explore, with such buttons as “What We’re Thinking,” “What’s going on” and “Meet the jaZamily.
Founded 1996, jaZams offers a wide selection of quality, imaginative toys and books for all ages. We especially liked the store’s blog item entitled “Playing at the Beach” which featured our own HABA Bucket with Spigot. The store’s blogger said “This is not your ordinary bucket. It has traveled to Puerto Rico and Malta with us on vacation and now we have it here. It collapses to fit easily into a beach bag and it has this incredible spigot that keeps a slow and steady stream coming out when you turn it on. My son never goes to the beach without it and all the other children line up to play with it!”
Jazam – that’s high praise and we appreciate it.
For more information visit http://www.jazams.com/.
Barstons Child’s Play – Baltimore and Rockville, Maryland, Mclean, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
Barstons Child’s Play has been serving the greater Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area for over 26 years, and now counts five locations in its stable. Here you’ll find shelves are stocked with toys and games, puzzles and trains, books and music, arts and crafts, cards and party costumes, for children of all ages. The store entices customers to meander through its many sections and plenty of informed staff are on hand and willing to assist so you’ll never worry about a Birthday (or holiday) present again.
For locations, hours, directions and all things Barstons visit http://www.barstonschildsplay.com/.
aMuse Toys - Baltimore, Maryland
Family owned and operated, aMuse Toys prides itself on their expertly-curated and engaging toy and gift selection from around the world. The Towles family's passion is play and upon walking through the doors of their store - it's clear that they were destined to own an independent toy store. Voted Best Toy Store in Baltimore by Baltimore Magazine and rightfully so - their commitment to the community extends beyond their shop's doors. They regularly contribute to and sponsor family-friendly events, non-profits and educational and cultural institutions that line up with their store's mission - to provide a high-quality, safe and educational products that promote responsibility and creativity.
For all the pertinent information visit http://www.amusetoys.com/.
Mass Ave Toys – Indianapolis, Indiana
Known locally as "the Headquarters for Happiness", Mass Ave Toys prides itself on catering to the kid and kid at heart. Offering a selection of high quality toys, games and gifts for all ages, with a charming "old timey" feel you can't find at the big box stores. What we love about their store is the expert, knowledgeable staff - the owner founded the store in 2006, but has worked in the toy industry for over 30 years! Considering their expertise and convenient location, it's no surprise Mass Ave Toys in Indy is "the" Mid West destination for toys! They're also known for their free gift wrapping service - all the more reason to look to Mass Ave Toys for your holiday needs!
For complete details visit http://www.massavetoys.com/.
Peapods – St. Paul, Minnesota
Peapods suggests babies, and that is truly the peapods – Natural Toys and Baby Care mission with, of course so much more. This store, in historic St. Paul, boasts, “Our products are made of natural materials like cotton, wool, silk, and wood or environmentally-friendly alternatives like natural rubber or recycled plastics. We strive to purchase our other products from other small, family-based businesses. In fact, unlike many catalog and internet retailers, we specify exactly where each product is made.”
Peapods offers a variety of high-quality toys – many from HABA – but it also carries such baby-centric items as baby slings, cloth diapers and wraps – indeed, peapods is an advocate for cloth diapers.
For complete details visit http://www.peapods.com/.
Geppetto’s Toy Box – Oak Park, Illinois
Speaking of great names, it’s a wonder that there aren’t a ton of toy stores called Geppetto’s. After all, Geppetto in the famous story of Pinocchio was a classic wooden toy maker – no lie! This family owned gem was the 2009 Parent's Pick Award Winner for "Best Toy Store in Chicagoland,” and has been around since 2005.
Here’s how they describe their shop: “If you're looking for quality toys that encourage imaginative play and learning, look no further than the heart of Oak Park, IL! This European-inspired toy shop in historic Oak Park focuses on wood and natural fiber toys from responsible manufacturers. From puzzles and games for the whole family, to world music and books, arts and crafts, or fabulous building toys, there's something here for every age! Our bright, vibrant store remains warm and welcoming to all who stop in and we are committed to fabulous customer service and product knowledge.”
Get all the details at http://geppettostoybox.com/.
Clover Toys – Seattle, WashingtonSarah Furstenberg, a graphic designer-turned MomPreneur opened Clover in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA in 2004. Her aim is to provide toys, clothes and other items that her own children love, while mixing in some things she'd wished she had when she was little. Sarah chose the Ballard community because of its vibrant mix of educated young families and baby boomers, all with the same need - a great place to buy interesting things for the deserving children in their lives where it's ok to "look with your hands!"
Details can be found at http://www.clovertoys.com
HABA retailers all over the country are dedicated to making this Christmas – and every toy buying experience – the perfect time. We are proud to have retailers whose commitment to quality, imaginative play and parenting is paramount to their mission. Whatever you end up giving, don’t forget to Take Time to Play and have a little fun yourself. Learn more about HABA’s campaign for holiday family time and read what the experts have to say about the power of play here.
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