Toy Quest!

Toy shopping can be one of the best parts of the holiday season. It gives you a chance to find toys for youngsters while reveling in nostalgia for your own favorite toys from childhood.

That’s why it’s so fun to skip the convenience of Amazon, and head out to a toy store where you can see all of today’s latest and greatest offerings right next to those beloved classics lurking about on the shelves as well.

Of course, this year there’s a wrinkle in ye’ old well worn toy shopping map. For many people, the most iconic toy shopping experience involved a visit to Toys R Us, but those big mega toy stores just aren’t there anymore.

If you haven’t been following the Toys R Us saga, then you may not know that they aren’t completely gone. Their mega stores are closed, but they have morphed into pop-up shops called Geoffrey’s Toy Box that will be embedded within 600 Kroger stores for the holidays. Here’s a news segment from Channel 9 in Cincinnati where Kroger is headquartered.

So, if you happen to live in the 35 states where Kroger has a presence, then you can at least get a small taste of that old toy shopping joy.

If you live in New York City, you can also revel in bygone toy shopping times by visiting the FAO Schwarz that’s just returned from holidays past.

Still, with just pop-up Geoffrey’s Toy Boxes and one FAO Schwarz, there’s something missing. That’s initiated a bit of a war among retailers like Target and Walmart who would love to capture some disoriented toy shoppers.

Here’s another news segment about “Toy Wars” from the same Channel 9 in Cincinnati that covered Geoffrey’s Toy Box pop-up shops heading to Kroger.

Attempts to lure lost Toys R Us shoppers has led to some new marketing ploys. Check out this 360° YouTube video published by Walmart.

So, while there’s no mega store where you can get your toy nostalgia fix, there are plenty of retailers jostling into line to fill your toy shopping needs.

Then there’s also another option.

You could try shopping at an independent, locally owned toy store. Here’s a segment on three of the most well known independent toy stores in the US.

If you don’t happen to live near Lark Toys (Kellogg, MN), Toy Joy (Austin, TX) or Games of Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), no worries.

Here’s a simple solution — open Google Maps, enter your location, click NEARBY, enter “Toy Store” and Voilà!

This advice may sound snarky, but in all honesty, I tried it for four of the cities that I know best, and I was truly surprised at how many toy stores showed up that I had never heard of before. Try it, it’s enlightening!

So, let’s say you figure out how to get your toy store fix.

Then there’s still the question of what to get….

If you are shopping for a kid with a techie bent, here’s a somewhat odd, but entertaining segment from CNET with some suggestions.

Finally, if you’re shopping for someone who isn’t into generic, big brands or techie toys, then perhaps something somewhat off of the beaten path might do the trick. Here’s an immersive 360° video about Mark Nagata’s Max Toy Co.

Happy Toy Shopping!

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