By local I mean the San Francisco Peninsula, around Palo Alto, although I've also included some home-based stores that you need to write or telephone. In our area, unfortunately, we've had a spate of store closings, as the great plastic-machine that is Wal-Mart moves in and takes over. Local moms are kindly requesting that people patronize the mom and pop toy stores that they like. Unlike Borders, which carries a good selection of books when they take over local environs, Wal-Mart does not have a great selection of toys.
In my humble opinion, and to the best of my memory, the best toy stores are
Learning Express in Belmont (and other locations around California). Awesome toys. Not a huge store, but I can usually find something nice and kind of unusual. Good cooking toys.
Adventure Toys and Teachers' Supplies, 173 Main Street in Downtown Los Altos. Phone: 650-941-6043. I love this store. They have lovely toys. Good trucks and baby stuff. If you stand facing this store, one block to your right (yup, just up the street) is another kid's store. Chain store. Some fun bath toys, some good baby stuff, but I frankly never manage to find anything there. Thomas stuff if you want it. If you're in the area, che
Klutz Store in Palo Alto, located on 572 College Avenue, one block west of J.J.&F.'s Market, off El Camino. Phone: 650/493-2481 I'm not terribly wild about these guys, but that's just because I don't have a bunch of 12 year olds to buy for. Their kits and books would be great for that. The Playstore in Palo Alto on 508 University Avenue. Here's a photo. Phone: toll free at 1-877-876-1111. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10:30AM to 5:30PM and on Sunday from 1 to 5PM. Lovely Waldorf-inspired things, including the beeswax crayons and silks to drape your baby in (see Steiner's color theory writings). Many fo the lovely and very pricey German toys. Just nice things. Cheeky Monkey in Menlo Park, on 714 Santa Cruz Avenue Phone: (650) 328-7975.
Someone told me that Talbots toy store in San Mateo is a family-owned company with very competitive prices. According to this person, t is stocked with wonderful stuff and has a helpful staff that actually enjoys working there and likes kids.
There is a lovely little toy store in San Carlos on Laurel Street called Milo's Toy Chest. 666 Laurel Street Phone: 650-593-8697 Open Monday through Friday 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM, Saturday 9:30 AM to 6 PM, Sunday 11 AM to 4 PM
Palo Alto Sport Shop & Toy World, 526 Waverley Street in Downtown Palo Alto. Phone: 650-328-8555. Has a lot of bathing suits (?). Some fun little tiny toys, good frisbees, etc. (I once bought a polo stick here), and they always, always have some sort of good truck toy. My son was given a great truck that carries cars for his 3rd birthday. A lovely gift. Nothing funky or fancy or particularly european. But some of the plain stuff is great.
Lin's Toy Cupboard in Los Altos at 237 State Street Phone: 650-948-4511. ??? I just found this and will have to check it out.
Do you believe? Barbie clothes
When I was in New Jersey two years ago, I ran into this lady, who makes the most adorable Barbie clothes that you've ever seen. All handmade. All just kind of ... neat.
I was never allowed to play with Barbie dolls, but these clothes are neat. They're made out of real materials, except for the evening and wedding gowns (FIVE DOLLARS apiece). A total kick. I won't type the entire thing, but here is part of their price list for 2002.
afghans - $2
Crochet dress and hat $5
knit slippers $1.50
underwear set $3.50
jogging suit $4
mohair stole $2.50
knit ski hat $1.50
In short, anything that you can imagine, these ladies make, by hand.
In my humble opinion, if you must let your child play with some flesh-colored, oddly inflated toy which is undoubtedly doing strange things to their psyche (hey, am I enthusiastic, or what?), the best thing that you can do is encourage them to make the accoutrements. All of this cheesy bright pink stuff is for the birds. I can take the inflato-girl, but the pre-imagined stuff is waaay too much for me.
(I hope she's still here!)
P.O. Box 213
Fairless Hills, PA 19030