Why I Love My Neighborhood Toy Store

Whenever possible, I prefer to shop both locally and at non-big-box chains, as anyone who follows me on Foursquare already knows.  You get more personalized (and often better) customer service, a variety of toys you don’t always find in chains, and the quality of the merchandise that is available is often of a higher quality then you can find in larger chain stores.

One of our favorite toy stores, and one I have written about before, is The Learning Express of Montclair, NJ.  They have the nicest sales staff, really cool (and educational, fun) toys stocking the shelves, and never (not even once) have I bought a toy from them that broke within a year.  (The one that broke after a year was inflated much too  much by an enthusiastic 4 year old.)

Gift wrapping is available, the team that works there actually knows A- what products they have in stock, B- where to find them, and C- what to suggest if you need an idea or what you are talking about if you come in with a vague idea of what you are looking for and don’t know the actual name.  Imagine that!  An informed, caring staff.

Our local toy store also has nearly all of ASTRA’s Best Toys for Kids available.  Non-Profit organization ASTRA helps parents and people with kids in their lives easier by compiling a list of the year’s best toys that they can refer to, based on a panel of 650 expert judges.

Some of the included toys this year are (click here for the full list of toys)-

Bunny Peek A Boo

learning games for kids

In our house, my husband and son love games. They love when we get to have our special game nights. I am always on the look out for new games that we can add to these. Bunny Peek a Boo will be a new regular for us, even if it is meant to be a 1 person game.

  • 1 Player Games
  • Multilevel
  • Easy Storage
  • Durable

The Smart Games company has a large variety of games for your children. They are great because they can all be played with just one person, or you can easily adjust for more people to join you.

About Bunny Boo:
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Top Interactive Gifts for Kids

The holidays are fast approaching, and for the discerning tot on your list, it can be hard to know what to give that will brighten their day- and will be played with long after the decorations have been put away. These are some of the top interactive toys for the toddler group that will keep kids entertained and let mom and dad have fun, too.

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This new addition to the Furreal Friends line from Hasbro is the most animated and responsive yet, responding to the touch, eating her “food”, whinnying and batting her eyes. She has soft, pose-able legs, and will respond to cuddles and nuzzles in kind, as well as to being brushed or fed her carrot (both included). She moves her ears, and will respond to your child’s talking to her by whinnying back. When she is fed her carrot, she makes happy crunching sounds and “chews” on her snack. Baby Butterscotch will give children the experience of owning a virtually real, animated pony- even snoring as she goes to sleep after a long day of play.

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Hallmark Interactive Story Buddies

Bigsby, the shy monster, likes to go on big adventures and learn new things with his friends. He is interactive with both his books and iPod/iPad apps, chiming in when he hears key phrases. Bigsby comes with the first in his series of Interactive Storybooks, Bigsby’s Best Friend, and has 3 stories available currently. Bigsby also learns social skills, such as friendship, in his books. The app and other interactive and fun features are included for free with purchase of Bigsby. For the holidays, you may consider Jingle and Belle, Husky Puppies decked out for the season. Belle has style and flair and wants to be herself, while Jingle just wants a home and to be loved. They each have their own story books, as well as the combined Jingle and Belle’s Christmas Star, which they both respond to.

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Super Grover by Playskool

The Sesame Street Flying Super [Read more…]