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WHY Buy from Locally-owned Toy Stores?


WHY Buy from Locally-owned Toy Stores?

Kids come to PLAY at The Toy Shop in Sonoma

By Vesta Copestakes

The single most important reason to purchase toys from our locally-owned toy stores has nothing to do with supporting our local economy. It has everything to do with nurturing our children. These stores are FAR superior to Big Box toy stores in MANY ways.

What each and every one has in common is that they exist to NURTURE children…not just entertain them. You won’t find aisles divided into boy toys filled with primary colors and trucks, monsters, war and machines. Girl aisles filled with pink and pastel clothes…dolls and doll houses, cooking kits, cheap jewelry and make-up. 

In our small toy stores, girl and boy toys are mixed together. They divide by category of, art, learning, crafting, building, stuffed animals, puzzles, science, etc. They also divide by age group so you can go to the tiny kid section and know that there will be age-appropriate toys on up to big kid toys and games.

Kaleidiscope Toys, Windsor and Santa Rosa, CAThe best thing is to take kids with you. You won’t find them pulling toys off shelves and dumping them into the aisles because these local toy stores have play areas. Shelves and aisles open up to a table with puzzles, a sitting area with books, a train set, building blocks, a rolling or bouncing toy that let’s kids ride around the store while you shop. You can test-drive some of these toys to see if there’s more than ten minutes of play before they lose interest.

Mixing learning and imagination with play is a huge part of the toy selection. Fantasy is encouraged. Dress-up isn’t wrapped in a box that you can’t open to see what’s inside before you purchase it. Clothes and accessories are on hangers and shelves so you SEE what’s available, touch it to feel if it’s scratchy, check out the quality before you buy.  

How much money have we spent buying a poorly made toy that kids break when we get it home. How often do we not take it back for a refund because it’s such a pain to do so?  Our local toy stores sell quality goods. They don’t carry cheap stuff that falls apart because it’s not sensible to do so. They don’t need customers returning goods, they need customers returning for more.

As a grandparent I have to consider not just what I want for my grandchildren, but also what my grand kids’ parents want for their children. Mom and Dad have rules I need to consider. In my case, the kids also live in a small house that can easily get cluttered with toys. If I’m going to buy it for their house, it had better be good. And if I’m going to buy it for my house for when they visit, I want it to be special.

Toy Stores & Stores that Sell Toys

Toy stores have a mission. Their owners know children and know what’s good for them. I was in The Toy Chest in Healdsburg that used to be called Toy-B-Ville and was entertained as much by the customers as by watching my granddaughter Destiny decide what she likes. It still has the flavor of the original store,  so I went to Plaza North shopping center in Petaluma where Toy-B-Ville now lives - same owner. It’s HUGE in comparison to their old store! Their selection is amazing and they have this great space where parents get together with each other and their kids. Play areas are all over the store! It’s a wonderland for kids and parents! If you can’t find what you are looking for here, it doesn’t exist!

Kaleidoscope is in this category of toy store with enough toys to choose from that you are bound to find what your child will enjoy. They carry the most intricate and lovely mermaids and fairies that make you know they must have been inspired by real fairies. While I was there kids were wheeling around the store on all kinds of kid vehicles and one kid was immersed in playing the piano by the front door. This is what we treasure. What do KIDS want & need?   

Little Luma, Petaluma, CAAt Little Luma in Petaluma you’ll find science kits that show kids how butterflies lay eggs, that grow into caterpillars, that create a chrysalis that hatches a butterfly in the cycle of life. Right next to those you’ll find beautiful dragons and dinosaurs in remarkable detail. Wooden blocks for building sit near books and tiny fabric animals that are full of personality. There’s also a clothing section with rain coats, shoes, dresses, teething mittens and the softest baby clothes you have every touched. This is a very impressive store!


Circle of Hands, Sebastopol, CA

And the children’s store that captures my heart is Circle of Hands in Sebastopol. It brings peace and hope to the idea that you can raise children in a gentle world without violence and war toys. The Knight in Shining Armor dress-up is just not the same as GI Joe in battle fatigues. Their dragons are breathing wishes and dreams instead of fire and fury. Toys are made of wood, fabric and natural materials that feel good in your hands. It’s peaceful in here. Come breathe the restful air while you shop.   

My absolute favorite close to where I live is Guerneville 5 & 10. I take the kids there for entertainment - mine as much as theirs. I choose from silly to very old-fashioned, science to fantasy...and get a bag of candy, a sparkly bracelet - whatever our heat’s desire is at the time. It’s fun in there!

And I don’t want to leave out making your own gifts because that’s about spending time with your kids working on projects together. The Annex at Art & Soul, Sebastopol has coloring books to art stamps...they even have a kit to make your own calendar...a lovely gift idea. 

So take a look at the list on the next page to find a toy store near you - or one that requires a little journey because getting around Sonoma County is fun. And remember stores that sell a lot more than just toys also stock quality toys because all good stores that are about home are about being at home with our families. Have FUN shopping!

Rex Hardware, Petaluma, CA


Toy Stores of Sonoma County

Guerneville 5 & 10
16252 Main St, Guerneville
This store is a parent trap because they have things we want as well as what our kids want. Great selection of games, paper dollls, cards, pranks, sewing supplies and of course 5 & 10 candy! It is exactly what they claim - a FUN store for EVERYONE

Kaleidoscope Toys
2421 Magowan Dr, Santa Rosa
(707) 545-8697
9078 Windsor Rd, Windsor
(707) 836-8697 Kaleidoscope-Toys
Two locations all filled with high quality toys, games, dolls, stuffies, mobile devices – you name it – they have it! You can spend a lot of time in thse stores. Bring the kids!

The Toy Shop
240 W Napa St, Sonoma
(707) 938-1197
Very sweet shop that knows your kids by name. Kids come in just o play. Excellent choice of toys to nurture children. Great for grandparents!

Toy Chest
401 Center St, Healdsburg
(707) 433-4743
Very sweet and very packed. They have carried on the Toy-B-Ville tradition with everything from beading kits to puppets. Tiny things to stave off I want cries to real costumes for dress-up.

Toy B Ville
171 North McDowell Blvd, Petaluma
HUGE store in Petalumas Plaza North Center on McDowell Blvd o the east side of town. Excellent peronal sercice, good people who know kids and what’s good for them. 

579 Rohnert Park Expy, Rohnert Park
(707) 540-0701
Fundemonium is more than just a toy, hobby, and game store; it is a family fun experience. They have FUNd raisers, event, all mixed in with selling toys and hobbies – that’s the best part – all the bobbies they support!

Mad Hatter
3692 Bohemian Hwy # 3, Occidental
(707) 874-3200
This store goes back many years to the traditions established by the previous owners. The shop is tiny but the merchandise carefully selected to kids to adults who think like kids. It pure fun in here!

The Toyworks
531 College Ave, Santa Rosa
(707) 526-2099
6940 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastiopol
This family has been serving Sonoma County families with quality toys for 36 years. Great stores with high quality products that teach and nurture.

Tiddle E. Winks 5 & Dime
115 E Napa St, Sonoma
(707) 939-6933
Fun items you’ll remember from your childhood: vintage toys & games, metal lunch boxes, pins & pennants, and all kinds of sugary delights!