Each of the family-owned shops in Toys & Co.'s chain is an oasis of fun and interactive play for kids, housing shelves loaded with dolls, stuffed animals, and games. During visits to the magical emporium, children while away the time playing with trains and melting away the stresses of preschool or slow business at their lemonade stand. Kids of all ages can sharpen cognitive skills with diversions such as puzzles and word games, including developmental infant toys to boost burgeoning motor functions.
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.
When Shawn Slome founded Twig in 2007, he knew Chapel Hill was ready for business that focused on selling sustainable, organic, and fairly traded goods. Today, the shop carries a large selection of natural and organic merchandise, with new products arriving weekly. Items range from bamboo and organic fashions, to fair-trade bags and accessories, along with glass and stainless kitchen storage, lunch kits, imaginative toys and organic baby gear. Each purchase is backed by a tireless effort to source their merchandise locally and ensuring suppliers are held to high labor and environmental standards. As it turns out, Shawn's mission resonated with the community as Indy Week readers have voted Twig Best Environmentally-Friendly Store for the past five consecutive years.
A wide range of puzzles, play mobiles, and postmodern dollhouses enthralls every child and inner child who crosses The Play House Toy Store’s magical threshold. Toys from top brands such as Playmobil and Ravensburger share shelf space with handcrafted collectibles designed to be cherished by all ages. Wooden and cardboard puzzles from Melissa and Doug ($17.99+) befuddle brains with jigsaw images of animals, alphabets, and Jackson Pollock paintings, and Lego sets and accessories ($4.99+) equip architects to-be with polychromatic training palettes. Handcrafted Madame Alexander dolls ($44.99–$49) decked out in queenly costumes take high tea with their playfellows, oblivious to the knights and plastic-melting dragons waging war on nearby Playmobile sets ($9.99–$44.99).
Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique stocks more than 6,000 natural, eco-friendly products for babies and their families. Caretakers can swaddle infants in cloth diapers and coverall gowns or dress them up for blind baby dates with stylish miniature shoes and hats. Handcrafted Little Alouette wooden teething toys and child-safe trinkets made from natural rubber or organic cotton protect emerging baby teeth or vampire fangs. New mothers and mothers-to-be can find their own apparel and parenting products in the boutique, including diaper bags and totes, breastfeeding accessories, and maternity garments.