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Twin Cities Toy Stores: Good Enough Stuff

By Erin Garner

It's only taken two years for me to memorize the robotic songs that my daughter's toys play. I can even hum the buzzes and beeps or tap the rhythm of the lights of most of them. Frankly, I'm so tired of all the vibrating, buzzing, beeping, singing, wiggling, wobbling, and clanging that I was recently tempted to give all these toys away. But, since they are likely to break before I have a chance to gather them for rummage, I have decided to just stop buying so many cheap, plastic toys. Instead I have committed myself to buying toys (and not too many at that) that require my children to actually use their imaginations (that would be in place of using batteries). This commitment has lead me to a recent discovery...that the Twin Cities has a great selection of small toy stores that carry fabulous, high-quality toys from around the world.

So, you're tired of gazing at thousands of toys across the aisles of huge chain stores? Looking for a unique toy that will last longer than the season? Here are several of my favorite toy stores that carry everything from hand painted wooden rattles to luxury doll prams and promise high quality toys you are unlikely to find at your local big box store:

Creative Kidstuff has distinct gift-wrapping that just about any kid who grew up in the Twin Cities recognizes. I remember at my childhood birthday parties I knew (before even opening the presents) that gifts from this store were bound to be great. My two-year-old can hardly keep herself contained when we walk into Creative Kidstuff. Although some of their toys require batteries, most require a lot of imagination and are sure to be a hit with your kids. They have toys for all budgets and ages at their several store locations. Visit http://www.creativekidstuff.comCtreative KidStuff for more information.

Wonderment is a wonderful toy store that opened just over a year ago (right across the street from the Linden Hills Creative Kidstuff). They sell toys that are inspired by the Waldorf educational philosophy. They have tons of wood toys including some wonderful doll houses and great baby rattles and teething toys. They also carry fabric dolls with clothes that are more beautiful than those my children wear! I recently purchased a doll for my son (yes, boys like dolls too) and he loves it - especially the crazy dark red yarn hair that is really wild. Wonderment is located in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis on Upton Avenue. Visit www.wondermentshop.comWonderment for more information.

Peapods, located in St. Paul on Snelling Avenue, is a great place for the "crunchy-granola moms" who prefer all-natural toys, organic clothes and cloth diapers. I love this store and would visit it more often if I lived in St. Paul. They carry many of the same things as Wonderment, but also have a selection of other baby care products (including some great slings and wrap carriers). You can also shop their goods online atPeapods.

Lakeshore Learning is not a small store and is part of a nationwide chain, but I've included it because I like this store! Lakeshore Learning was originally designed for educators, but is open to all. They have great educational toys and art supplies - everything from building blocks to teaching clocks. Lakeshore Learning has locations in Maplewood and St. Louis Park, but you can also shop from home on their website, Lakeshore Learning.

Categories: Things To Do, Twin Cities Picks,

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