When I was young, parents who wanted to make sure their kids had the hottest toys of the year under their Christmas tree had to line up at Toys R Us or KB Toys. But over the past decade, toy store chains have all but disappeared, with KB Toys deciding to quit in 2009, and Toys R Us going bankrupt in 2017.
But there is still hope. Although FAO Schwartz, the famous New York City toy store, closed its store on Fifth Avenue in 2015, the brand was bought and the store was resurrected at Rockefeller Center in 2018. Online shopping helps to fill the void left by the absence of shopping center chains. , but how do kids make their wishlists without the ability to browse their favorite toy aisle (we all had one) or the help of advertisements, which the advent of streaming services has so successfully eliminated? of our lives?
Here in Chattanooga, local independent toy stores continue to offer procrastinating parents the convenience of grabbing last-minute gifts just before Christmas or on the way to a birthday party.
To help you with your local vacation shopping, here’s our directory of Chattanooga independent toy stores and owners’ picks for their best toys this season. Don’t sit back on whether to pick them up, as COVID-related supply chain issues, labor shortages and the current shipping crisis have all hit the toy market hard, said Patrick Holland, owner of Learning Express in North Chattanooga and Mountain Top Toys. at Signal Mountain.
To offer further proof that toy stores are not dead, Holland said its stores had their best-ever sales since the start of the year in Mountain Top’s 29-year history and Learning Express’s 13-year history. .
Covered car general store
52 avenue Frazier | 423-497-5088 | boxcargeneralstore.com
Specialty: Classic and nostalgic toys. Think sturdy steel Tonka trucks that last forever, classic family games like Twister and Clue, and retro toys like the Pound Puppies and Ms. Pac Man arcade games. Basically the things people my age would beg our parents to buy from us at KB Toys. “We also have a lot of modern toys,” adds owner Danielle Landrum.
Current bestsellers: Care Bears and NeeDoh balls, which are stress balls filled with a paste-like substance of a different color than her flexible skin, making it look like she’s changing colored when the ball is pressed.
Here is a guide to Chattanooga toy stores.
A kindergarten shop
135, avenue Frazier | 423-634-0822
Specialty: Toys for the youngest, as well as clothes and books. You can also find puppets, stuffed animals, and collectibles such as Civil War army figures.
Current bestsellers: Maileg mice, handmade toys from Swedish company Maileg on themes such as camping and the beach (the tattooed beach daddy was a particularly hot item, according to owner Jeanne Trewhitt) with the corresponding accessories. Many come in adorable matchboxes, or you can also do it all with expensive items like the Maileg Mouse House personalized with the mouse furniture and mice of your choice.
Learn Express Chattanooga
313 Manufacturers Road, Unit 103 | 423-643-8697 | learningexpress.com/chattanooga
Specialty: Toys focused on learning and creativity. The stores of the Learning Express chain, which includes Mountain Top Toys, are independently owned. Patrick and Joanna Holland own the two local stores.
Current bestsellers: Holiday Squishmallows, the holiday-themed series from the nation’s hottest soft toy line, as collectable as Ty Beanie Babies in the ’90s; DopeSlimes, slimes with delicious scents like Blueberry Pancake, Ice Cream Birthday Cake and Marshmallow Puff which were the surprise success of 2021; STEM kits from Thames & Kosmos; Fidget toys and stress balls such as Pop Its, pop hits, Wacky Tracks and NeeDoh balls; and ICEE machines. (If I still had a Christmas list, an ICEE machine would definitely be there.)
Mountain Top Toys: An Express Learning Store
1231 Taft Road, Signal Mountain | 423-886-6943 | mountaintoptoys.com
Specialty: hard-to-find, education-oriented toys, stocking stuffers
Current bestsellers: Da Bomb Bath Fizzers, bath bombs with a surprise inside; Mini Brands Series 3, collectable sets containing five mysterious miniature versions of household items from popular brands; Stomp Racers, miniature car launchers and pneumatic miniature cars for racing and jumping; 3D Creatto light puzzles; and the Shashibo magnetic puzzle cubes, which can be made into over 70 shapes and combined to create even larger shapes.