By Nancy Johnson Horn, Editor
Wondering what the difference is between a big box toy store and a privately owned toy store? Customer service! While you may be tempted with some of the deals you see, there are so many more advantages for shopping at small, independent toy stores. My friend Josh Muskin (who’s been a toy rep for years) said, “These businesses are there for their community all year round — so while sales at the big box stores may be tempting, don’t forget the amazing customer service you’ll get at a local shop. Ask your local shopkeeper for toy recommendations – they know their products and will always know the perfect gift for a child!” Keep reading for a list of 10 Cool Local Toy Stores on Long Island.
And that’s true. I love walking into smaller local stores. I love when the mom of the birthday child compliments me on our choice (after the party) and I just smile (and silently thank the salesperson who helped me pick it out).
The non-profit ASTRA, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, which promotes creative and open ended playtime for children, just released something that is really going to help parents, the Best Toys of list. This is the list you should consult before you go into your local toy store. The winning toys were selected by a group of 650 experts based on a 1) toy’s ability to promote open-ended/creative play, 2) a toy’s innovative design features and 3) a toy’s exceptional safety standards. This year, the list includes 21 toys for kids of all ages.
On the list is Green Toys Seaplane, the Potholder Pro, Original Spirograph Deluxe Kit (ages 6+), the Q-BA-MAZE Mega Stunt Set (ages 8+) and more.
We tested out the Green Toys Seaplane ($19.99). I’ve been a Green Toys fan for a while and I knew that my toddler was going to love playing with it. It’s made from recycled milk jugs. You can take it in the bath or pool, it’s designed to float. And it’s virtually indestructible, which is great for a kids’ toy. Does not contain BPA, phthalates, PVC or external coatings, and also meets FDA food contact standards. Packaged with recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks. Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
So, this holiday season, shop your neighborhood toy store — you’ll support a great local business and get much better customer service (which you’re not going to get a big box store).
To check out the full list of this year’s winners and find a local toy store near you, go to http://www.yourneighborhoodtoystore.org.
Here’s a local list of great toy stores on Long Island
1. Fun Stuff Toys in Seaford
This store has great in-store toy demos. Owner Mike Timko will demonstrate a toy in the middle of the store to show a parent how awesome it is. They have a tremendous variety, great staff, and convenient parking.
Where: 3639 Merrick Road Seaford, NY 11783
2. MJ Beanz in Plainview
If you visit MJ Beanz be sure to look up at the ceiling, they have been flinging small gel lizards and assorted animals since they opened their doors. It is a terrific place to shop for party favors and they also have a great selection of personalized gifts.
Where: 345 S Oyster Bay Rd, Plainview, NY 11803
3. Funky Monkey in Greenvale
The most beautiful toy store in Long island. Be on the lookout and take advantage of their “Funky Deals” They offer an impressive book section and the most amazing gift wrapping (thick paper, high quality).
Where: 360 Wheatley Plaza Greenvale, NY 11548
Info: (516) 484 -0966
Funky Monkey in Greenvale
4. Matty’s Toy Stop
Mattys has 7 locations on Long Island, the main one being in Hewlett. This family- run business is the best combination of mass and specialty toys. If you see it on TV, it’s in these stores — if it’s a specialty board game, it’s in these stores.
Where: 1350 Peninsula Blvd Hewlett, NY 11557
Info: (516) 295-2555
Matty’s Toy Stop
5. Lainie’s Way in Port Jefferson Village
Where: 109 Main Street Port Jefferson Village, NY
Info: (631) 474-5558
6. Fantastic Kids in Great Neck
Great Neck’s local beautiful toy store that also has a sister store in Manhattan.
Where: 50 Middle Neck Rd Great Neck, NY 11021
Contact Info: (516) 504-1158
7. Stevenson’s Toys and Games in Southampton
A Southampton staple, you can get lost in this store! From floor to ceiling, the location has been a toy store for 100 years and they are fully stocked for any gift giving need.
Where: 68 Jobs Lane Southampton, NY 11968
Contact Info: (631) 283-2111
8. Second Star to the Right in Bridgehampton
Owner Marianne Kearns moved into the Bridgehampton Commons Shopping Center, gutted and redid her store and it’s GORGEOUS! There’s a Terrific staff and is part of the Good Toy Group, which sets a standard for quality and product choice.
Where: 2044 Montauk Hwy #11 Bridgehampton, NY 11932
Info: Website (631) 537-6111
9. Dolphin Bookstore in Port Washington
This Port Washington institution has terrific windows! The store is filled with a killer selection of books, cards and toys. It’s woman owned and operated and a cafe may open up inside of it soon.
Where: 299 Main Street Port Washington, NY 11050
Contact Info: Website
10. Gee Willikers in Locust Valley
This unique shop is known to carry products that no one else has. The store is laid out uniquely and you simply can’t walk out without buying something!
Where: 22 Forest Ave Locust Valley, NY 11560
Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments!
Disclosure: I received product courtesy of ASTRA for this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.