When I photograph people, I get to know them a little and they turn from customers into friends. So, as a service to my families, I am reviewing businesses, activities and places that are like minded and that my families would love to see. To escape the inversion this week, I checked out a store called Penny Lane Kids -Books and Toys for Curious Minds." Their advertising refers to them as 'the North End's Neighborhood Toy Store'. After 30 minutes in the store, I could see why.
I interviewed Josephine, one of the owners, and asked her what makes this store different than chain stores. She said Penny Lane Kids offers one on one attention, toys you can't get at other stores, incredible variety of educational toys and games and a personal touch. Their free gift wrapping, book swap, birthday bins, etc, set them apart. Another example of their special service came from last Christmas. A regular customer bought a large kitchen for their daughter's gift. They didn't have a place to assemble and store it where their daughter wouldn't see it. One of the owners of Penny Lane Kids assembled the kitchen and delivered it on Christmas Eve!
Another example is their toy bins. When a child has a birthday coming up, they can come in and fill a plastic bin with toys they would like. Then, on the way to the party, parents come in, look through the bin behind the register, buy one of the toys, have it wrapped and go straight to the party. (That is a convenience I wish I had dozens of times over the years!)
Offering toys that interest children from newborn to early teens (except the giant Star Wars Lego set that say 16+ on the package) their appeal is for all kids. They have a great selection of board games and educational toys, as well as other harder to find quality toys.
Like Welker Photography, their business is dependent on referrals and repeat customers. About 85% of their business is from returning
customers. Since it feels like a neighborhood store out of the 50's where everyone is a friend, you can understand why. As school ended, some local kids filtered in to see if they had anything new. You could tell that they were regulars and comfortable just coming in to say hi. The moms and neighborhood kids love coming in, even if it's just for a moment while shopping at Shu's Idaho Running Company
or the nearby salon.
The next day I stopped in and bought a book for my daughter. I learned then about their book swap where you can give a book and take a book all summer long and weekends during the school year. That was why they stocked some excellent used books, making this place friendly to all budgets.
This is a neighborhood store that's straight out of the 50's- but with a website. I just wish it was closer to my neighborhood! Penny Lane Kids is located at 1778 W. State Street. It's worth stopping by and like me, you'll become a regular, too. It's kind of like taking a nibble of Grandma's chocolate chip cookie dough - you just don't want to stop. For more information, check out their website at http://www.pennylanekids.com/
or call them at (208)344-5437.
What toy would you want in your birthday bin? Leave a comment below and tell me!