For more than 60 years, Toys“R”Us has been helping kids be kids and grown-ups to revisit their childhoods by providing one of the largest selections of top-brand toys, electronics, games and everyday baby essentials. Founder, Charles Lazarus, revolutionized the toy business by modeling his stores after supermarkets, providing a variety of options to suit varying ages and interests and offering customers to help themselves and have fun in the process. Today, that sense of playfulness is evident at nearly 600 stores in the United States alone, including a flagship location in Times Square where kids are greeted by a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a 5-ton animatronic T-Rex, and a life-sized, 4,000-square-foot Barbie house.
Beyond everybody's favorite bikes, trains and video games, each Toys“R”Us store keeps its shelves stocked with the season’s must-have toys as well as nostalgic standbys that never go out of style. Time-tested brands such as LEGO, Radio Flyer, NERF and Fisher-Price share the shelves with an expansive selection of electronics for older kids, including Wii U and tablets. And though the company has inspired generations of boys and girls to try their hardest not to grow up, it also strives to ensure budding brains develop right on track by devoting a significant portion of its stores to “smart-play” with a wide selection of electronic learning toys and software.
Toys“R”Us—whose extended family of brands includes Babies“R”Us and FAO Schwarz—has earned a number of awards and recognitions through the years, including a spot on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. The company has also drawn considerable recognition for its expansive charitable efforts, which include partnerships with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Save the Children. This year also marks the tenth consecutive year that the company has partnered with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to collect new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations in its stores to benefit the organization.
To give local players a place to gather and hone their card-marking skills, the founders of Ocala Bingo started hosting Bingo nights two years ago. The convivial gatherings happen four times a week and cater to multiple bingo styles, from the classic version to speed book—where squares are identified by number only—to early-bird sessions, whose jackpot is a punctual worm. Patrons can play on paper cards, or add a technological twist to an old-school hobby by playing on digital handsets.
To make its matchups a regular occurrence, Ocala Bingo enjoys sponsorship from six charities: Unity Place Housing, Inc., Boys & Girls Club of Marion County, Childhood Development Services, Inc. of Florida, Marine Corps League Detachment of Marion County, The Marion County Homeless Council, and Ocala Model Railroaders' Historic Preservation Society, Inc.
It might be hard to believe considering its vast array of products, but Sears, Roebuck and Co. began with one accessory: watches. In 1886, Richard W. Sears bought a box of unwanted watches from a jeweler, thinking he could turn a profit by selling them. He was correct and committed to the watch business by hiring Alvah C. Roebuck, an experienced watchmaker.
As time went on, though, their business expanded its umbrella far beyond what people wore on their wrists. Sears became known as the place to shop for almost any appliance, from sewing machines to those magical boxes that create water from nothing and clean your clothes.
Today, the stores stock clothing, accessories, electronics, kitchen equipment, tools for outdoor living, and home decor. This variety is sustained by Sears's proprietary brands—Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard, to name a few—and other national names that populate the shelves.
With its recent addition of an authentic soda fountain, Lofty Pursuits dishes frozen retro treats using the same techniques, equipment, and glassware used by neighborhood soda jerks in the 1940s. Menu items include the Diesel Sundae ($6), where Guinness ice cream is covered in coffee syrup and chocolate-whipped cream. Those looking for a unique treat can engulf a Brooklyn style egg cream ($3) or sip on a Green River lime-sherbet soda ($6). Handmade sodas ($3) from a vintage soda machine come in tasty flavors like cherry, blueberry and peach, while ice cream sundaes include the Black and White ($6), where both chocolate and vanilla ice cream happily mingle. Lofty Pursuits also offers shakes, such as the Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake ($7), which is topped with a freshly toasted marshmallow, and the Mayan Chocolate ($6) with its spicy cocoa flavors. Coffee and tea are also available, as well as free wi-fi, Uno, and Trivial Pursuit, for those that want to show off their historical knowledge while they scarf down their snack.