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.
Rainbow Play Systems’s expansive showrooms introduce kids aged 2 to 10 to a wonderland of gym equipment, all of which is available for purchase. A multitude of swing sets with spiral slides, trapeze rings, and tire swings exercise tykes while preparing them for the physics portion of the SAT.
Impress your friends by forcing your children to build an exact replica of the Declaration of Independence out of LEGOs with today's Groupon to LEGOLAND Discovery Center. For $8 you get a general admission ticket to the Discovery Center (tickets are normally $19 for adults and $15 for kids). With the extra cash, spoil your kids with LEGO building sets, which can help their reasoning, planning, and hand-eye coordination. LEGOLAND is perfect for a day with your child, nephew, little sibling, or physical therapist.
Being recruited by the New York Yankees in high school and winning the Heisman Trophy for football in 1985 predictably foreshadowed a successful sports career for Bo Jackson. In addition to achieving All-Star status as a major league baseball player for New York, Kansas City, California, and Chicago, he became an NFL MVP for The Raiders in 1987, forever cementing himself in the pages of sports history books. Today, the multitalented athlete celebrates his career of swinging bats and hurling balls by personalizing Oakland Raiders and Chicago White Sox jerseys for his enduring legion of fans. These enthusiasts also get to meet the man himself as he adds his signature to the shirts sporting his name and number. The folks at Sideline Marketing organize the event. In addition to Bo, they represent a whole host of athletes, creating countless opportunities for fans to meet and critique the penmanship of their personal heroes.
Inside a bustling factory and design studio in Chicago, needles embroider children's names on rocking chairs, receiving blankets, and mammoth toy boxes. Nearly every Hoohobbers item is highly customized—whether with monogramming, personalized color and pattern options, or a choice of fabrics. This feature isn't the only one that appeals to design-minded parents. Furniture, accessories, and household goods for babies, toddlers, and children are portable, lightweight, and durable. Unfortunately for neglected screwdrivers, allen wrenches, and stress balls, the items require no assembly. Their practical yet modish designs often appear in magazines, including Chicago Parent, Life & Style, and People and regularly win awards, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Best of Chicago title for infant and toddler gear in 2009 and 2010.
Jamie O'Hara the Magic Guy's child-friendly, interactive performances have entertained jaded children and giddy adults with a balance of magic and comedy for nearly a quarter century. Jamie's balloon-shaping hands, humor-filled hats, in-depth encyclopedia readings, and surprise rabbit showings keep special events entertaining with eye-fooling flimflammery.