Two Surprisingly Good Sources for Kid’s Toys
May 4th, 2013
We had a birthday party to go to today. It was for a little girl in Miss Mouse’s class who was turning four. Or five. I’m not sure. In any case, the party snuck up on us and I wasn’t able to order the necessary supplies for my go-to gift of “personalized play dough kit.” I found myself needing to buy a present from a store.
Which is a bit of a challenge here. Oh, it’s not hard to find presents. We do have several Walmart Super Centers within striking distance. But I find the toy aisles of Walmart overwhelming and frustrating. Everything is extremely gender stereotyped and most of it is licensed merchandise. Disney Princesses. My Little Pony. LalaLoopsy. Bratz. Barbie. Etc, etc, ad nauseum. The thought of trolling those aisles with Miss Mouse in tow to select a gift wasn’t my idea of a good time.
But where else could I look? There aren’t any designated toy stores in our town and popping into Lexington on short notice wasn’t going to happen.
As it turns out, though, I discovered two different sources of gifts: Hallmark and Cracker Barrel.
Our Hallmark has an excellent supply of Melissa and Doug toys – particularly art supplies. I love Melissa and Doug. We own a wide variety of their toys and puzzles and have never been disappointed. I was pleasantly surprised to find an entire section of stamp kits and other activity sets in our Hallmark.
All Cracker Barrels have a gift shop attached to them. They’re also a bit overwhelming due to how crammed they are, but they actually contain a decent selection of kid toys. They’re still pretty gendered, but at least the princess gear is generic rather than Disney-linked. We ended up buying Mousie’s friend a pop-bead kit for making bracelets and necklaces, along with a pack of jewel temporary tattoos. Miss Mouse loved it, friend loved it, and the shopping experience itself wasn’t too stressful.