I am so excited to begin my new series! "Shop Local Interview Series" is going to focus on locally owned businesses in the Chelmsford, Westford, and surrounding areas that focus on services and products for young children & families.
First on the tour is one of my families favorite toy shops: Toy Shop of Westford. Coming up on their 10 year anniversary, Sonya says, "We have toys for all children and all abilities."
Sonya, the owner, bought the store previously known as Teaching Toys following her lengthy career managing Learning Express in Acton. She lives in Westford and her children all attended Westford schools. Caitlin, her assistant, is also a former teacher. In fact, most of the staff were educators or are currently teaching in some form or another.
Having a highly qualified staff takes their service to the next level. The staff are familiar with child development, special needs, and how different types of toys can be used as teaching tools. FUNdamentals, a tool available on their website, helps parents to choose toys and activities that are just right for their child. I LOVE THIS! It demonstrates how learning through play is possible and how play targets so many areas of education.
In addition to selling toys, the store offers workshops for educators and occupational therapists. They can help you find a toy or activity to focus on a certain area of development. Plus, if you have a question about or need to modification to a toy, the staff are able to help you find something that will work for your child's specific needs.
Their Events Calendar is available online. It is a little bare because of the busy holiday season going on right now, but during the rest of the year they have guest speakers, story teller, authors & illustrators. Our family went a few weeks ago and saw a yo-yo professional! You can follow them on facebook and twitter, as well, that way you are among the first to see their special events & sales.
Last, but not least, I cannot write about a toy store with out writing about the toys. They have toys for all age groups and abilities, infant - college. I have two children, ages 4 and 10, and was able to buy all of their Christmas gifts there with no problem at all. Unless you count limiting the quantity items I chose a problem. The majority of the toys and activities are for infant through early teen, but there are family board games and outdoor activities for older teens and college students.
So, what are the hottest toys this season? Caitlin says gross motor activities and toys are the best sellers this year.
For Infants & Toddlers
|YBIKE - a ride on and walker toy, featuring castor wheels for easy turning|
HABE Little Red Rider - A ride on & push toy with storage
For Pre-school & School Age
|Flying Turtle - A sitting Scooter, made in the USA|
|Ezyroller - A cambering motion riding toy|
|Spooner Board - A balancing board, similar to a skate board but without wheels, made in the USA|
Besides being knowledgeable about the products and some of the nicest people I've met, this store goes above and beyond by offering complimentary wrapping with each purchase. This has been a lifesaver, as we have stopped in a few times on the way to a party and are able to grab & go.
Additionally, they have a great community presence. Toy Shop of Westford has a corporate partners program, works with other local businesses, and does fundraising events. I recommend getting in touch with Sonya or Caitlin if you have any additional questions about what their store has to offer - It's a lot!