I’m one of those types that rarely shops at big toy department stores and I hardly ever buy plastic toys or toys with a cartoon character on it (I leave that up to the grandparents, aunts and uncles). So I’m always on the look-out for terrific toy shops.
I first heard about Village Toy Shop when researching a recent feature on Easy Daysies. Nestled in Port Moody’s charming Newport Village, the Village Toy Shop is the brainchild of Kirsten Anderson. The love of toys runs in Kirsten’s family; her mother Victoria Andreson opened the original Granville Toy Company.
Even if you’re a city gal like me, don’t cross this gem off your list of places to visit. The store makes a great family destination and you’ll enjoy checking out Newport Village’s shops and cafes. A stroll through nearby Rocky Point park is a great way to cap off any afternoon.
Kirsten shared with us what she loves about owning her store, what she thinks makes her shop unique, as well why she picked Port Moody.
How did your mom inspire your business?
After a brief career in movie theatre management in 1990, I started working for my mom in the family business The Granville Island Toy Company in Kids Market. It was such a blessing to have 10 years of mentoring. Her years as a preschool owner and teacher gave her a foundation in product selection second to none. To this day, I still look to my mom for her support and wisdom.
Why Port Moody?
When I discovered Newport Village, it was love at first sight. It was a dream I held for years to be able to find that European old-fashioned feel for my own venture. The Village is a place where people often come daily for their fresh Italian baking, for the fish monger, the butcher, or the many other unique independent mom-and-pop-owned businesses. This experience of shopping in the fresh air was in keeping with my Granville Island and Fort Langley roots and really the antithesis of the mall. The inspiration and vision was of a Toy Shop from 18th century London where toys are primarily not a passing fad but treasured playthings to be passed down.
We opened our doors in 2001 to a very welcoming community that has stayed loyal all these years.
What should Vancouver moms expect from The Village Toy Shop?
With lots of nooks and crannies and product right up to our high ceilings, there is a vast selection for such a small space to cover any gift requirements. Hundreds of titles of games and puzzles for kids and adults mostly from Europe. Brain teasers, Books, “The Fun Wall”, silly, novelty under $5, tricks and jokes, and loot bag stuffers. Puppets, Plush, Dolls, Arts and Crafts, Infant, Eco-Friendly, Wood and Bamboo, Playmobil, Trains, Science, Music, Tween, Lego, Bath Tub, Calico Critters, and Dress Up.
What makes The Village Toy Shop unique?
One of the distinctions of The Village Toy Shop is our expert Toyologists dressed in white lab coats ready to prescribe just the right toy. From newborn to adults, we focus on play value. Our philosophy is to find products that have fabulous return on investment – we call this “pennies per playtime”. Unlike the big box stores, we aren’t concerned about licensed characters, electronic doo-hickeys, or TV advertising that don’t add to the play-ability of the toy. Toys that teach must also be fun.
What do you love about what you do?
One of my favourite parts of this business is seeing the kids grow up that we have been providing the highest quality toys to for the last decade. The idea that we contribute to a child’s development, growth, imagination, and happiness is why we are here. Special events like the Teddy Bear Picnic, visits from mascots, store parties are the icing on the cake and make all the work more joyful. Through our gift wrapping service we raise thousands for children’s charities such as BC Children’s Hospital and Juvenile Diabetes Research.
Advice from moms in the store is another perk of working in such a warm atmosphere where we have the time to develop relationships with our customers.
What do you do in your family time?
Still learning how to balance and juggle work and family. My personal time is shared with my family a supportive husband and two active boys, ages three and four. As a family, we spend our time out in the community at pools, parks and Festivals. I love running into our customers at all of these places. It is such a warm feeling to be out and about and have people come and say hi. In personal time, I can be found reading parenting and child development books, or children’s books (including Harry Potter of course). Dress-up, forts, pretending, music, books, art, and puppets are just some of our favourite things to play. Our two tiny “Toyologists in the making” are fabulous toy testers, as are all the reviews we receive from our customers.
Anything else to add?
On the last Friday of every month, I do an interview on Global noon news on different themes. The archives of some of these interviews can be found on our web site. One of the wonderful aspects of this has not only been that people from across the Lower Mainland travel great distances to come and experience our store but that we can refer people to other neighbourhood toy stores across BC that they may not know exist. We call it sharing the love.