Holiday Gift Shopping – Two Local Toy Stores Bring Back The Fun

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Toys and the holiday season go hand in hand, but trying to find the right gift in a crowded mega store or on the vast expanses of the Internet is a task that some people may find to be more overwhelming than jolly.

Fortunately for shoppers, the North State is home to two locally owned stores that exclusively sell toys.

Co-founders Daniel and Simona Bryan in their fun-filled Mt. Shasta toy store ePuppets.com.

Co-founders Daniel and Simona Bryan in their fun-filled Mt. Shasta toy store ePuppets.com.

ePuppets.com, Mount Shasta

ePuppets.com of Mount Shasta started as an online toy store in the summer of 2014, and when the search for a warehouse turned up a great retail location, the company expanded to include a brick and mortar shop that opened this past July 4th.

Owner Daniel Bryan had been commuting from Upper California to Silicon Valley for years when he decided he wanted a change of pace and lifestyle. His wife Simona’s background in working with children as a music teacher provided the inspiration for the couple to try their hand at selling toys.

“Some of Simona’s best times teaching were when she used puppets. They’re a great tool to enhance learning and facilitate communication,” says Daniel.

While the business started with a focus on puppets and marionettes, ePuppets now also sells wooden and nostalgic toys, science and art kits, and other items specifically chosen to inspire imagination and creativity.

Daniel notes that locally owned stores can provide a more “well thought out” inventory than large chain stores, which saves time and frustration for customers since they don’t have to wade through aisles of cheaply made and quickly broken toys attempting to find a quality product worth giving.

“Simona’s background as an educator leads to her being a great buyer. She puts a lot of thought and effort into the choices of what we carry to make learning fun. We even have Star Wars science kits that are educational.”

ePuppets.com
306 N Mt. Shasta Blvd., Mt. Shasta
(530) 918-6029
http://www.epuppets.com

Owner Barbara Fleharty loves offering an array of quality toys at her Redding shop Sugarplumb Kids.

Owner Barbara Fleharty loves offering an array of quality toys at her Redding shop Sugarplumb Kids.

Sugarplum Kids, Redding

Barbara Fleharty, owner of Sugarplum Kids in Redding, agrees that smaller, independently owned stores not only offer easier shopping but can carry a unique variety of items that can be hard to find locally in smaller communities.

“We focus on making the whole shopping experience a pleasant one. It’s a safe and calming environment. You can bring your kids in and know that what you see and hear will be suitable, that the products will be high quality, and that you’ll be treated well.”

Barbara began working seasonally at the store, formerly known as Sugarplum Cottage, doing displays while she was going to nursing school. She stayed on for ten years and says that it feels like her own children grew up there.

When she learned the store would be closing in 2013, Barbara was sad to see such a special place leave the community. While telling her mother-in-law that she would miss the store so much that she wanted to buy the life-sized wooden soldier guarding the sidewalk in front, Barbara got an unexpected idea. “She joked that I should just buy the store,” said Barbara. “So, I went home and talked to my husband, and he said to go for it!”

One criterion for Barbara was that she convince the original manager, Linda Rawitzer, to stay onboard, keeping her years of expertise in the store. Linda agreed and, seemingly overnight, Barbara was in the toy business.

Sugarplum Kids reopened shortly after, and Barbara has enjoyed bringing ideas from her own mind into fruition as the store owner.

“We have a lot of old-fashioned toys that take you back to your childhood, with high-end, heirloom quality items,” Barbara says. She adds that Sugarplum Kids also carries hand-crafted and locally made products, has a baby shower and gift registry, and offers complimentary gift wrap.

In addition to convenience and ease, gift buying at locally owned stores benefits the  community at large, with more money going directly back into the local economy. So, as the holidays descend upon us, consider a less hectic and more personal experience by patronizing locally owned stores such as these.  

Sugar Plum Kids
1734 Churn Creek Rd., Redding
(530) 221-5573
http://www.sugarplumkidsredding.com

Pamela Llano
About Pamela Llano

Pamela Jorrick is a northern California writer and homeschooling parent.

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