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Friday, October 28, 2011

Small Business Spotlight: Nico & Lily Toys

1. Your name, business name, where you're located and areas you serve.

Stacy Harbour-Van Hoy
Nico & Lily Toys
224 W. Kennewick Ave. in downtown Kennewick
Toys for kids of all ages.

Softdough Rainbow Stack, $11

2. How long have you been in business, and what got you in to the toy business?

This all started seven years ago, with the birth of my son Nico. Once he entered my life, I knew that I my career as a full time middle school teacher would be taking a break. I would need to find something that I was just as passionate about but would allow me the flexibility and energy to tend to my boy. At about that same time, my long-time friend Pam, and web designer, was starting to hand make dolls. We put our heads together and came up with an online toy store, featuring local, handmade toys that we felt were different but still affordable and fun. 

Then, just about two years ago, my family and I had to suddenly pick up and move to the Tri Cities to tend to family. I maintained the online store but the move made a partnership difficult, and Pam and I decided to split. She returned to her web design career, and I decided that the time had come to give it a go on my own. 

Just about the time this new business plan started coming together, Jenna and Swanky Babies announced their move and vacant space in downtown Kennewick. The timing could not have been better. And so, here I am today, same great idea that I started with back in 2005, in a location where we have several child and parent centered shops, finding and selling the toys I know are high quality, timeless and fun. 

Rubbabu Car, $8

3.  What is your most popular toy?

For babies, it is the Photo Mobile, paired with Art Cards by Wee Gallery. The cards are printed on thick recycled cardboard with soy-based ink with these great black and white images of farm animals, sea life, garden critters, jungle animals or naturally black and white animals (penguins being my favorite). 

For the toddlers, our selection of Rubbabu rubber vehicles are very popular. They are these squishy soft cars, trains, and planes with brightly colored flocking and rubber wheels. Fun to roll around and don't hurt when you throw them either!

For the big kids, the arts and crafts are always a big hit, and elementary and older always gravitate towards the Softdough. Made in Oregon with food grade, nontoxic ingredients, it's play dough that really lasts. We've had a sample open for two year now, no joke, and its still soft and pliable. We've got a rainbow assortment stacker or individual colors, including glow in the dark. Many folk think the older kids won't go for toys anymore with all the electronics out on the market. I've watched those same big kids play with my toys for hours. 

Black & White Cards, $14 or $25 when paired with mobile

4.  What are the most unique toys you carry?

Many of my toys are one-of-a-kind, and are not duplicated or mass produced. My handmade rattles are knit or sanded by hand. My handmade babies and sock animals are each sewn by hand. Each sock animal is a sweater, and once the sweater is used, the artisan hunts her local thrift store for another. They are about as unique as you can get!

New eco art kits, coming in next week

5.  Do you have children who test new toys?

Nico and Lily of course! They are seven and three, and a big influence upon what I carry in the store. I also watch what kids go to first when they walk in the door, and are often surprised by what they pick up. I have babies who love the building sets and big kids who race around with the push toys. 

6. What were some of the first toys you carried, and do you have anything new on the way? 

I've always carried the handmade dolls and rattles, and always will. New will be books, eco art kits, and activity books. All coming next month! - new eco art kits

Be sure to fan them on Facebook and let them know I sent you!


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