Area toy stores have geared up for the holidays here in Summit County. The Stork & Bear Company in Frisco and Peak-A-Boo Toys in Breckenridge are stocked and welcoming the holiday crowds.
Mary Elaine Moore opened the Stork & Bear Company in 1986. At the time, there were no other children's toy stores in the county. She started with infant and maternity items, adding on as the years went by and her own children grew. "We felt like we were more than just Stork & Bear because we had grown with our children, and then we grew with our customers' children," Moore said. "We were adding on more products and bigger sizes. We used to be baby and then we added toddler ... Especially with toys, we became more than just infant toys."Now Stork & Bear has expanded to include Around the World Toys. Housed just next door, Around the World Toys offers toys for all ages, from stuffed animals to Legos, board games and microscopes. The company, said Moore, has grown with its clients. Now the second generation is coming in to buy things for their children."I fit their shoes, now I'm fitting their kids' shoes," Moore said. "It's really rewarding."When deciding which toys to sell, Moore spends time going through catalogues and attending conventions throughout the U.S. She makes sure to look at the market and consult her regular customers when making her decisions. She'll even call certain customers to inform them when a new line of toys or clothes comes in.Customer service, said Moore, is one of the ways her store shines over the toy departments at larger stores. Those who aren't sure what exactly they're looking for can describe the child and receive advice from store employees or Moore herself. "It's like we're personal shoppers," she said. "I really enjoy shopping for my customers."
Breckenridge also has its own locally owned toy store. Peak-a-Boo Toys has been around for 10 years and is run by Jeff Boyd. Boyd has had several small businesses in town, including Mountain Java coffee, which used to be on Ridge Street. He also has two children and said he enjoys working at a toy store."I just love my locals," he said. "That's what makes it worth it - watching the kids grow up."Part of the appeal of his store, Boyd said, is the intimate knowledge that he and his staff have gathered about the products they sell. Several of his employees have worked for him for eight years or more."They have got incredible toy knowledge," he said.Peak-A-Boo Toys' busiest times aren't necessarily what one would expect. While more customers do start to come in during holiday shopping time, it's after Christmas that the crowds really peak. "After Christmas is wacky," said Boyd, "(and) summer is bigger than winter now."He attributes this to more crowds being on the street during the sunny summer days than during cold wintry days, although he does get people coming in to buy board games and other diversionary items when the weather gets bad.In addition to toys, Boyd's shop features a candy section, where customers can buy bags of jellybeans, chocolates and other sugary goodies.
At a time when toys are becoming more hi-tech and technology companies are gearing more of their products toward children, some might wonder if any traditional toys are getting sold at all.The answer is yes - they areBoth Peak-A-Boo Toys and Around the World Toys carry tons of traditional toys, with few electronic toys and none of the big techy items like iPads and video game consoles. It doesn't make sense financially for the smaller stores to carry those big expensive items, said Boyd. "We don't engage on the technology battle," he said.Additionally, both he and Moore prefer to offer items that customers won't find on hand in the larger stores. "We try to focus on education and old-fashioned toys," Boyd said, who works with mainly independent brands. "So we can get the unique things that we don't have to compete with Target for. ... I love it when I can do (business with) nice, small companies."Moore uses stuffed animals as an example of traditional toys that are still big sellers. "They loved stuffed animals. This guy," she said, picking up a small dog, "I can hardly keep him."Another reason Boyd keeps around traditional toys is that they're classic, he explained."Monopoly doesn't go out of style in the spring."