Tuesday, December 11, 2018. Cold and sunny, yesterday in New York, with temps run from 40 in the early afternoon down to the high 20s at night.
Thirteen more shopping days ‘til Christmas. Thirteen is a lucky number for creative gifts. What made me think of this was that an old friend of mine who is in the retail toy business, Roy Stevenson, joined us as an advertiser for this month. It’s called Stevenson’s Toys and he and his wife Polly have two shops – one in Southampton, and one in East Hampton.
The first, in Southampton was opened 17 years ago. Last year they opened a second. The Hamptons were the chosen destination because Roy’s family has been going there for four generations. Or maybe it’s five nowadays.
I haven’t been in a toy store since I covered a charitable event at FAO Schwarz when it was at the Apple plaza location. But I really haven’t been in a toy store since I was a kid when my mother took me to meet Santa Claus. Remember Santa Claus, giver of gifts?
A toy store was a treasure trove, at least for an imagination – which all children still have. I always made a point of asking for One particular gift – the first was a sled (Radio Flyer) since it was that time of the years (age six). The next year was an electric train, and I was amazed that Santa (I no longer believed in him) answered my prayers.
Talking about this with Roy Stevenson I got a brand new version of a toy store – although the kids entering it now wouldn’t care about the details. He told me about the frequent difference between the toys the kids want, and the toys that an adult might find more educational or artful or wholesome or somehow ‘better.’
He gets it; he was once there. The first trade show he went to was the Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse (Toy Fair). He went looking for “crafty, wonderful wooden toys.”
However. Back behind the counter of Stevenson’s Toy Store on Job’s Lane in SH, he soon learned that while “parents” were taken with the German treasures, their kids didn’t have the slightest interest whatsoever. They were thinking: Batman, Power Rangers, Barbie, and Dora the Explorer.
Roy’s vision was instantly modified. Kids know what they want. Roy’s eye is to provide the best selection of toys that are hot at the moment, and the more classic too. Seventeen years later they’ve been voted the Best Toy Store in the Hamptons by the readers of Dan’s Papers every year.
Being the Hamptons, it was usual to be open for the summer months and the Xmas holiday season. Roy’s got a great staff. When someone calls wondering what the best toy might be for a certain age child, they can make spot-on recommendations.
They also gift wrap for free and can ship anywhere – so whether in store, or on line, or over the phone, taking care of a customer’s toy list is quick and easy. If you need help, or can’t find exactly what you are looking for, give them a call (631-283-2111) or visit their site where you can buy everything. Give them the age of the child, and a budget, and they will make it work, sure to please. And quickly: we don’t have a lotta time left. Also, they maintain gift registries and offer gift cards.
The first thing that caught my eye was the fire truck Fire Truck Speedster by Schylling. Roy said kids just love fire trucks Ha! No kidding! This kid loved ‘em when I about the same age, and even had one! That was long ago. The 21st century kid’s version comes equipped: with a working bell, small hose, and two detachable play ladders. Just the sight of it would have thrilled this kid. Still kinda does. $129.95
Here are few of Roy’s other recommendations …
MyPhone by Mirari
Little ones love playing with Mom or Dad’s phone. The MyPhone is baby’s own phone – press the icons and hear fun sounds, phrases and songs…plus, lights! Parents, grandparents, siblings and more can record messages for baby to hear when they “answer” the phone! Record and re-record as often as you want! They can even use the heart remote to make the phone ring from across the room–it’s like magic to little ones! $21.95
For Babies 0 -12 months (unisex)
Eric Carle Hungry Caterpillar Rocker
The unforgettable character from Eric Carle’s classic children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar is transformed into a wooden rocker with soft body. The caterpillar rocker is 26″ long and 19″ tall, the perfect size for toddler to ride; $129.95
For Toddlers (1-2 years old — unisex)