By: Jen Russon
Toy Express, a brand new family-owned business in the Turtle Run Shoppes of Coral Springs, is a boutique children’s store, where owners Melissa and Patrick Savoie hope customers do more than simply browse. They want them to fully experience shopping in their store.
Whether that means ogling the large, mechanical dinosaur upfront, or picking out the perfect complimentary gift wrap, the Savoie’s hope customers with little ones take advantage of the indoor playground they have created.
“We hope word gets out this is a fun place to get away from the heat, especially in the morning,” said Melissa, adding the store opens at 10 a.m., 6 days a week and part of the day on Sunday.
The toy store’s gated playground features a covered tunnel that is made for toddler exploration – with padded flooring and cute accessories for kids to play with while their parent’s shop.
The Savoie’s, who are parents themselves, said the playground is just one facet of a very diverse toy store. Their youngest child, Naythan just celebrated his eighth birthday at the store, and their 11-year-old daughter, Kaylia recently experienced the joy of adopting a doll here.
“When you buy a toy online or receive it in a box, there’s not much joy in that. Coming here is more of an experience than anything else. We just want our customers to be happy. It’s a happy place,” said Patrick.
Gesturing toward the many dollhouses in his store, he said that with September well underway, some shoppers are already thinking about the holiday season, and having the option of pre-assembly is a comforting thought for them.
Looking around at the vast array of possibilities, there is a lot to think about while shopping here. One young customer commented she didn’t think she could see everything at Toy Express in just one visit.
“There’s just too much good stuff,” said, Anna, a 12-year-old who dropped by after school.
The Savoie’s offer a 50/50 blend of educational toys, including what’s trending among kids today. The latter might include squeaky, neon blue alpacas or giant fruit and dessert “squishy” toys that smell like strawberries, bananas, oranges or birthday cake.
Beyond children’s jewelry, and small manipulatives like bouncing balls, the store also sells novelty snacks and edible candies. There are practical jokes too, such as soap that makes your hands dirty when you wash them, and glow-in-the-dark bugs.
Customers will find jack-in-the-boxes for those who love Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Silly Putty, Rubix Cubes, assorted slimes, and stuffed animals.
However, one of the biggest show stoppers is the doll adoption center, with its nursery full of realistic baby dolls a child can adopt.
Melissa Savoie said that since Toy Express opened this summer, the doll adoption center has been among their most popular inventory. She explained that at no extra cost, her staff offers an authentic adoption experience for customers. They wear nursing scrubs and weigh each baby doll. Children are then encouraged to name their handpicked baby, so that a birth certificate may be printed.
The store includes a free gift with each baby doll purchase, like a blanket, bottle or diapers.
“I think the experience of carefully choosing a doll and bonding in the store instills a sense of how to respect and nurture human beings as well as the toy,” she said, describing how happy a five-year-old girl named Maya was to adopt her baby doll just last week.
From the looks of the adoption center, little Maya had plenty of dolls to choose from, with lifelike baby dolls from companies like Corolle, Boutique Baby, Adora, and Madame Alexander.
In addition to all its toys, baby doll adoptions, tricks, and treats, Toy Express is also proud to offer birthday party packages at a competitive rate.
“I don’t think you ever outgrow toys. I know I still haven’t,” said Melissa, adding that Toy Express is looking forward to sharing their passion for playtime with anyone who misses having a local toy store in the vicinity.
The Toy Express grand opening celebration is planned for Saturday, September 21, at 1 p.m. Princess characters, face-painting and balloon art are part of the festivities, as well as a chance to win several gift certificates. Toy Express is located at 6325 West Sample Road. Find out more at www.toyexpresskids.com.
- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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