The 5 OTHER best toy stores in America!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: whether you’re shopping for baby gear, toys, or, for that matter, anything else, local is the way to go. Not only are local toy stores and other small businesses an important cornerstone for neighborhoods nationwide, but you just can’t get the kind of service from a big box store that you’ll get from Magic Beans and other local staples.
Shopping with people who have the time to get to know you is a boon when you’re shopping for items like strollers (big-ticket items which you’ll be using every day), but it’s also so useful when you’re shopping for toys, and makes it way more fun as well! When you walk into Magic Beans or any of the other great toy stores on this list, you’ll encounter the same faces every time, and the local Toy Whizzes will always have great recommendations and great enthusiasm for the coolest new items on the shelf. Plus, the handpicked selection at Magic Beans and other specialty toy stores is always full of surprises, and every item is top-quality and loaded with play value.
So, if you’re not near our six stores here in New England, and you have kids in your life who need birthday presents and holiday gifts, check these terrific toy stores out! You’ll be glad that you did.
Kidstop – Arizona
We love stores that take training their staff seriously, and the “toy specialists” at Kidstop are our kind of people: they’re serious about toys, and they’ll take the time to help you find a truly special gift.
Yelp reviewers praise their thoughtful selection (and reasonable prices!), and they put on some great events – toy testing, anybody? Finally, if you’re shopping for the younger set (or if you’re expecting), you can get find the same great service and quality selection at Babystop.
Galt Toys + Galt Baby – Chicago, IL
Galt is one of the reasons why Magic Beans exists: when MB co-owner Sheri Gurock visited Galt, when her second daughter was on the way, she was smitten with the atmosphere and selection, and the rest is history!
They’ve been doing this for quite a bit longer than us (over 30 years), and their carefully thought-out selection of boutique-quality gear and toys combines classic toys and the latest trends. You’ll find loads of our favorites there, including TEGU, Laser Pegs, Thomas Wooden Railway, Manhattan Toy, HABA, and other top brands, all nicely divided up into easy-to-shop categories like construction and building sets, preschool toys, toddler toys, baby dolls, and so on.
Toy House and Baby Too – Michigan
It looks to be about the size of the big-box stores I remember from my childhood, but because Toy House is independently owned, you can access the same expert product knowledge you’ll find at any other specialty store. Looking for building toys, scientific toys, Playmobil toys? They’ve got the best, including many items that you’d otherwise only be able to find online.
Playthings Etc. – Pennsylvania
Could this actually be the world’s coolest toy store? Well, have you ever seen another toy store shaped like a futuristic spaceship?
And the selection is exactly what we like here at Magic Beans: Jim Cheney at Uncovering PA writes, “Walking down the aisles, I rarely saw a toy that I had seen before, and when I did, it was something I remembered playing with as a child that I didn’t even know was still made.” The staff also let Cheney take a helicopter drone outside and try it out. Sounds like a pretty fun place to visit, doesn’t it?
Toy Genius – New Jersey
Another toy store that takes customer service very, very seriously. Their incredibly attentive staff members are always on hand with great recommendations, and they’ve even started using a very cool live-chat program for their online shoppers.
They also keep plenty of toys out of the packaging for kids to “test drive,” and one Yelp reviewer notes that “you never feel like they are giving you the evil eye when your kid is running around like a lunatic.” Which is important, because running around like a lunatic is just what kids do!
And, the little things count: like us, Toy Genius will wrap your gifts, and I love how one Yelper described how an oversized bell xylophone was “wrapped with such a profusion of curly ribbon that it was downright magical.”
If you’re not near any of these great toy stores, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has your back: their handy store-finder will help you find an independent retailer right in your backyard. Shopping at your nearest specialty toy store will help maintain the economic health and unique character of your community – and, just as importantly, you’ll get better toys and better service!