By: Kathleen McHugh
“I dreamed for a long time of opening a store with my daughter, Susan,” says Erin Blanton, co-owner of Pufferbellies in Staunton, Virginia. Pufferbellies is a locally-owned specialty toy store that carries the smart, unique toys that are so hard to find in the endless aisles at huge chain stores. “Susan is so knowledgeable about child development and children’s literature. She came with a built-in following because she had been doing story times at both local libraries for years. It seemed like a great opportunity to us” explains Erin. “We knew a lot of people were driving 45 minutes away to visit the nearest good toy store. There was a chain toy store in the mall, but nothing like the full-range toy store we envisioned.”
The Blantons’ dream became a reality thanks to their hard work, expertise about kids and toys, commitment to the community, and excellent customer service—just like it has for so many specialty toy stores. Retailers and their customers will be celebrating all that stores like Pufferbellies bring to their communities on Neighborhood Toy Store Day, which is celebrated every year on the second Saturday in November. This year’s big day is Saturday, November 10, 2012.
Why Neighorhood Toy Store Day? It’s about quality of life, really. It’s about fun and toys and the joy of play and the joy of owning your own business. It’s about letting moms and dads and grandparents and other toy buyers know they can get unique, top quality toys right in their own community—the kind of toys that are about what the child can do, not what the toy can do. It’s about making the shop local statement—that communities are the better for the locally-owned businesses that create jobs, support local charities, and keep the dollars you spend recycling in your own town.
All that adds up to what we call the WooHoo Factor in the specialty toy industry. The Blantons have got it. Specialty toy stores around the country have got it. Most of all, kids who have a truly beloved toy in their hands have found the best possible version of the WooHoo Factor. That’s why we created Neighborhood Toy Store Day—so each of us can find our way to the WooHoo Factor that we can only get by being a kid in a toy store…no matter our age.