Just like its pint-sized consumers, Jelli Beanz brims with energy and imagination. The shop keeps Santa Cruz babies and kids looking sharp with a constantly updated stock of gently used clothing and apparel. It also keeps moms-to-be comfortable with maternity wear. But Jelli Beanz doesn’t end at the threads: it also populates its shelves with toys, books, and music, all hand-selected for quality and age suitability. For hard-to-find items, the Jelli Beanz staff can investigate the shop’s large storeroom, which means customers don’t have to waste time rummaging around or deciphering old treasure maps.
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.
Pump It Up's indoor inflatable arenas launch socked striplings into the air with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Staffers supervise fun-filled visits, during which adult counterparts leap around with their kids through gargantuan bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an inflated obstacle course.
The colorful venue also hosts custom birthday parties and private team parties, each themed to please the partygoers in question. These soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. The birthday boy or girl even gets to blow out the candles on their cake seated in their blow-up throne. Occasionally, the staffers switch off the lights, arming the roomful of players with glow sticks and bracelets as they navigate the air-cushioned obstaclescape. Relying on the staffers' vigilant, watchful eyes, guardians can rest assured that their charges will stay safe, and each piece of the inflatable playground is held to the floor and ceiling by a complex series of anchors installed according to strict safety standards.
A family of four poses amid crisp fall leaves, late sunlight casting a warm glow across their smiling cheeks. A newlywed couple beams at each other under a canopy of palm trees. Staff members of a new salon hold a giant pair of scissors, poised to cut the ribbon and the hair of their first giant customer during their opening ceremony. ultra-spective's photographers can capture groups and individuals in nearly any context, and they take a distinctive approach to each—so much so that the studio boasts six different divisions, for family portraits, high-school seniors, art portraiture, weddings, boudoir shoots, and business photography. An all-female team with expertise in lighting and airbrushing directs the boudoir shoots, where they guide subjects in poses designed to make them look svelte and beautiful. For family shoots, they'll gladly venture to a selection of reliably picturesque parks where split-rail fences lean, redwoods loom, and sycamores dapple golden fields with shade. The studio itself has plenty of personality, with chandeliers and black walls lined with hot pink sequins.
The comfy couch-laden Call Tag serves casual gamers and hard-core enthusiasts with hours of thumb-flexing entertainment. This next-generation game room charts the evolution of the console, starting with a nostalgic assembly of sentimental machines such as the Atari 2600, Intellivision, Nintendo NES, and Sega Master System, which put smiles on the stoniest of Pac-men and -women. Modern incarnations include Xbox and Playstation 2 and 3, allowing plush-cushion warriors to band together in multiplayer Call of Duty melees on a 120-inch screen or jam together on Guitar Hero or Rock Band with pro gear in a fully equipped studio. Realistic racing chairs enhance the experience of full-throttle car games, and wireless Internet connects PC gamers embarking on dragon-slaying quests. The studio is the perfect place to host a private party. Up to 10 gamers can indulge in two hours of unobstructed birthday celebrations and Mario Kart retirement toasts.
The Preschool Prep Company's award-winning line of DVD's and books are designed to teach children basic concepts such as letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Founder Kathy Oxley has good reason to believe that toddlers? can easily learn these concepts. After exposure to the alphabet, Oxley?s 14-month-old daughter began to recognize letters on signs and in books. Within a year, the two-year-old could read simple words on her own. Preschool Prep aims to provide children with a basic set of tools they'll be able to use when they're ready to learn how to read. In the end, it's a philosophy very similar to other educational approaches. "We teach toddlers to identify dogs, elephants, unicorns and dinosaurs," Oxley said in an interview with EW.com. "Letters are no different. They are just animals of a different kind."