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.
Taking control of a battleship can make you work up a mighty appetite. Luckily, there's a food cart located just outside this ship's walls. At E2 Toys2Try, LLC there are plenty of eco-friendly, lead-free toys and play stations to gallop to and from. The space abounds with baubles that run only on imaginations instead of batteries or vengeful, displaced souls. Along with the battleship and food cart, there's a rope tree, pedal truck, old-fashioned gas pump, and wooden kitchen. The playground's team stretches kids' imaginations further by engaging them in arts activities, which parents can watch from the cozy confines of a lounge replete with complimentary tea or coffee and free WiFi. Next to the playground, staffers stock a boutique toy shop's shelves with wooden and nonmechanized playthings from brands such as Edex, Haba Toys, and PlanToys.
Fashionably Ever After outfits children in both trendy, playful styles and traditional looks from its designer lines. Opening its doors in the center of south Philadelphia, the boutique welcomes boys and girls alike to try on clothing and accessories for newborns, infants, toddlers, and man-childs. Fashionably Ever After's expanded selection for girls runs up to youth size 16.
S.W. Randall Toys & Gifts' impressive catalogue features more than 20,000 specialty toys and games by brands that include Hasbro, Mattel, and Milton Bradley. During safaris through one of the store’s ample toy pastures, a Toysmith explorer telescope ($16.95) offers aid to patrons observing the gluttonous habits of Hungry Hungry Hippos ($22.95). A rousing game of Twister ($18.50) can vastly improve flexibility and hand-dot coordination—both important skills to demonstrate at college orientation sessions—and for those seeking shenanigans beyond what Trouble the board game ($14.95) has to offer, a multivoice changer ($14.95) easily befuddles McDonald’s drive-thru attendants with its 10 distinct sound modulations.
Next to New houses a continually growing collection of clothing and accessories for infants, adolescents, and moms-in-the-making. Owner Jennifer Hertzog and her staff pride themselves on handpicking only items that are in excellent condition. They fill the shop’s shelves with almost-new apparel for every season of the year, in addition to clothing and accessories for American Girl dolls, baby equipment, and toys. To up the convenience factor, Jennifer and staff even keep a “Wish Book” handy. In that, customers who can’t find what they’re looking for in the shop can list it down alongside their name.
When kids want to play Hot Lava Monster on a jungle gym, hone their athletic skills on shock-absorbent basketball courts, or swing for the sky on a backyard swingset, Superior Play Systems helps them on their way. The company creates play equipment crafted with safety in mind. Some of its trampolines, for example, come with safety enclosures to keep kids from accidentally jumping onto Pluto.
Swingsets are made from hardy California redwood and cedar; this durable craftsmanship is reflected in the company's warranties, which guard against everything from breakage to carpenter bees. And while the company's gear outfits backyards and playgrounds across the country, its staff also runs play centers, where kids can stop in for unstructured play or a birthday party.