Even before the recent toy recall scares I was repeatedly asked where I purchase toys for my DS, for my friends’ children and for my nieces and nephews. The answer is diverse and ever changing. Sadly, it rarely includes your typical toy retailer - though I wish it did.
Though we do have a number of toys made in China, it’s almost inescapable, most of our toys are made in the US or in Western Europe. Most do not contain batteries, magnets or small breakable parts – or hopefully, lead based paint. Most are open-ended, well made and inspire creative play. Most are, well...toys - not electronic, character based playthings.
Having worked in the toy industry developing products and marketing them to unsuspecting small children and their parents, I am perhaps a bit more aware than the average parent of the manufacturing process. I can also “read into” claims on packaging and dissect the marketing message. I appreciate and accept that a company must make money to survive – I’m OK with that. I’m actually OK with most marketing of children’s products. I just don’t necessarily want to purchase the products sold. I don’t want you to either…hence my occasional toy buying advice.
Following the Rule of Three, I buy toys in a variety of different places. In no particular order, they are:
1. Teacher supply stores – many have a small toy section 2. Tuesday Morning – great for wooden toys 3. Marshalls – often a fairly good selection of Melissa and Doug products 4. Target – a nice selection of crunchy toys 5. Hearthsong 6. Magic Cabin 7. Museums – most museum stores have great toys 8. Used Book stores – it takes some sifting but often you can find gold 9. Specialty natural gift shops- they often have a small selection of toys 10. Fairs and festivals – costumes, old fashioned toys and child sized tools 11. Independent local toy stores – though too many just stock hard to find mainstream junk 12. Michaels- great for miniatures, science kits and crafts. 13. Amazon – though only after locating a toys elsewhere
It doesn’t have to be difficult to buy “good’ toys, a little less time spent in the places you’d typically think of to buy toys leads to more time at places that actually sell good ones.
Read more of my posts on where and how to buy safe, quality toyshere