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.
By combining thorough education services with modern technology, Babbel's interactive learning tools help students speak a second language by connecting with potential friends and business contacts across the globe. Babbel offers programs for 11 languages, including French, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish, German, and Spanish, with integrated speech-recognition tools and review managers that adjust exercises according to each learner's progress. The online lessons can be accessed from home computers. Babbel's Web-based software also connects users to an online community of learners and native speakers who offer assistance by chatting with users, commenting on writing exercises, and posting obituaries for dead languages.
Shopping has never been more interesting than it is at Shake the Tree. This unique boutique features a little bit of this and a lot of that, from beautifully scented candles and rich hand lotions to a collection of perfume from various designers. Hand-milled soaps and silk scarves stand out for their uniqueness, while wool hats, locally-made jewelry, contemporary dresses and leather wallets and handbags are also available, each set perfectly on a beautiful display inside the sunny shop. Gift ideas include Sriracha cookbooks for home chefs, leather totes for the modern fashionista and even stuffed animals for youngsters. Shake the Tree also hosts monthly cocktail parties featuring some of the designers, with food from area North End restaurants.
Owner, operator, and local artist Marie Corcoran fills Gifted with a bevy of jewelry, pottery, and handbags that she has collected from local craftspeople or made herself. Baby onesies and bibs cover young ones with adorable designs, and her ever-popular collection of handblown glass pieces bedeck walls and mantelpieces with delicate baubles. An ample inventory of thoughtful guy gifts equips gentlemen with watches, ties, and cufflinks tinged with a retro art-deco design and colorful flair. Dog portraits decorate walls with the loyal grin of a black lab or the deeply philosophic gaze of a golden retriever. In addition to her shop, Marie Corcoran helps needy children and families across the world through mission and charity work.