Admittedly, I don't practice what I preach as much as I should or would like to, but I do have a great respect for locally owned/ran businesses. I really need to make an effort to shop locally more often, but that's probably a whole other can of worms for a different day. Anyways, one of my favorite local stores is the Toy Chest here in Hot Springs. Yes, I love it so much I was compelled to write about it!
Maybe it means I'm a big kid at heart (is that really a bad thing?), but I just love browsing and shopping for toys. I have to reign myself in a lot of times because I'll find really cool stuff (to me, at least) that is way too old for Myka. ha ha! Every time we visit the Toy Chest I am, as they say, like a kid in a candy store...except in this instance it's a toy store. :)
We hadn't visited since Myka was under a year old, even though it is literally right across the street from where my husband works. To be honest, I don't go more often because I always feel compelled to buy something when I'm in there. The owner and employees of the store are so nice and wonderful that I feel bad if I don't buy anything. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Though it may not be much, at least I know the money I spend is going towards keeping the store open. Businesses come and go, but I would truly hate to see this one go out of business.
The Toy Chest has been open since 1989 and is located in downtown Hot Springs, AR right across from Bathhouse Row. The older gentleman who owns the store is still very present in the storefront. You can tell he takes great pride in ensuring excellent customer service and selecting the best toys for children. Even if you've told him you've been in the store before, he always goes through his same "spiel" about how most toy companies only care about appealing to parents since they are the ones buying. That is why he only chooses toys that are appealing to children. But you know what? I love his spiel! That's part of the whole experience as far I'm concerned! We actually had a lengthy conversation about cheap toys, kids enjoying playing with the packaging more, etc. at my last visit. It was nice!
You won't find the cheap toys they sell at certain big chain stores at the Toy Chest. You can find many Melissa & Doug items along with toys from Schylling, Breyer, Calico Critters, Kidoozie, and many more. You can rest assured that if you buy something from the Toy Chest, it's almost guaranteed that your child will enjoy it!
While I'll admit that I fall into the trap sometimes too, there is a somewhat unfounded notion that local businesses charge more for their items. In this case, that's not true. I took my mom and one of my aunts into the Toy Chest when they visited last summer and my mom thought it was pricey. However, I'll put it this way: You get what you pay for. Quality toys are going to cost more than cheap ones that aren't even going to last one kid, let alone a few generations. I looked the price up of the train we bought in the picture above on Melissa & Doug's website and it retails for the same price I bought it for at the Toy Chest. I also bought an Imaginetics farm animals thing and it was only $1 more than it sells for online. (Plus hey, no shipping. ;) )
To wrap up, keep an open mind about local stores and give them a chance! You are likely to meet some wonderful people and find unique products! Plus, it's a great way to help support your local economy instead of another country's!