Independent toy store experience

While my friend was visiting last month, she popped into a cute independent toy shop in Chelsea and bought Kaia some gifts. One of the gifts was a stuffed rabbit, which, while sweet and cute and incredibly soft, was not something that I thought Kaia needed more of; she has endless stuffed animals, and only a select few that she has any amount of attachment to. So I was grateful that my friend was thoughtful enough to provide a gift receipt. I went downtown to exchange the rabbit for something else. When I entered the shop, I was not only surprised to see how large the shop was, but just the sheer variety of toys and books for so many ages. And it suddenly dawned on me that I had never really been in any toy store for years, much less an independent one. This toy store was most definitely a rarity in today’s day and age.

Most of the purchases we do are online now; it’s the way most of us live and operate. With online shopping being so readily available and Amazon providing so much convenience with a few clicks to purchase (plus free shipping with Prime, or a relatively low minimum for free shipping), it’s just too easy. But as I was perusing all the endless options in the shop yesterday and spending way more time than I’d originally imagined going through potential options, I realized how much value is lost with online shopping; you don’t get to actually see, touch, feel, even hold items in your hand. When you buy a pair of earrings online, they can seem sparkly and pretty… until you receive them in the mail and the gemstones are so tiny that you can barely see them; plus, the size seems almost half of what they looked like on the model’s ear in the online photo you viewed. The same goes with toys: the concept of something like a wooden tea time play set may seem fun (and sustainable); but then you get it delivered, and it seems like flimsy garbage that might give your toddler splinters. There are some things that are definitely better purchased after seeing it in person.

I ended up replacing the stuffed rabbit with a wooden coffee maker play set of the same value (I will never get over how expensive good quality stuffed animals can be!!). I thought it would be a good complement to the cooking/dining play set that I recently got for Kaia from our local Buy Nothing group; she really loves that set and “cooking with mummy.” She played with the coffee set a bit tonight and seems to already enjoy it. At this age and stage of development, there’s a lot of value in “pretend play,” and I hope that these toys can help broaden Pookster’s imagination.

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