Celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day in the Northwest suburbs

The holidays are slowly creeping upon us and that means it’s time to go shopping for the perfect present for your loved ones! Did you know that this Saturday, Nov. 11 is Neighborhood Toy Store Day? It’s the perfect opportunity to visit your local toy store.

If you’re looking for something special, want to enjoy a personalized shopping experience, or just want toys that kids can grow into and play with more than once, then do yourself a favor and avoid the big box stores. Shop local instead! 

Here are four neighborhood toy stores worth a visit in the Chicagoland northwest suburbs. Each of the toy store owners were kind enough to share their favorite toys for the holidays. (See? Awesome service!) And if you visit them on Saturday, not only can you check out these gifts personally, but they’ll have fun activities and/or sales planned to celebrate National Toy Store Day. 

Marvin’s Toy Store

64 N Williams St, Unit A, Crystal Lake

Since opening about four years ago, this mother/daughter-owned neighborhood toy store has been bringing smiles to kids. They’ve even claimed the title of best store for kids in McHenry County. While they strive to create a fun experience, they are also highly selective about products they carry. Most of their items don’t have batteries and they look for toys that encourage imaginative play. Besides a unique selection of toys and games, they offer complimentary gift wrapping, call-ahead shopping, and wish lists for birthdays and holidays.  

Whether you’re looking for a new book or the perfect gift, their knowledgeable staff is happy to help out. They will go the extra mile to teach you how to play a certain game or even help you pick out a great book. 

The fun: Stop by on Nov. 11 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for crafts to create, games to play, prizes, balloons and more.

Recommended hot holiday gifts: 

Anything unicorn! Check out GUND My Magical Unicorn. 

Thinking Putty is always popular, but especially during the holidays. It comes in a big variety of colors and effects from magnetic to UV light reactive. Liquid Glass will be a hit. It’s clear as glass, gets cloudy when played with, then clear again when you let it rest. 

Family strategy games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Dixit and Santorini are the fastest growing category.

Beat Street Toys & Gifts

45 S. Evergreen Ave., Arlington Heights

Located right in the heart of downtown Arlington Heights, the store is overflowing with toys, gadgets and trinkets for babies through teens. Ever since its move into the neighborhood, Beat Street has been helping parents take some of the work out of buying gifts for kids, and has become known as the place to go for birthday gifts and holidays. They have free gift wrapping and always include a fun ‘topper’ attached to each wrapped present as an extra treat. 

The fun: Come by on Nov. 11 during 10 a.m.-12 noon for face painting and balloon twisting. Kids can create/design their own ‘squishy’ and the winner will receive a basket FULL of squishies (a $60 value!). They will also be raffling off large squishable stuffed animal, plus other toys and prizes! 

Recommended hot holiday gifts:

Babies and toddlers – Quality wooden toys from Chicago toy maker T.S. Shure, Myland Toys, and items from French toy company Djeco. 

Young child – Spy Gear, Crayon Rocks or DOT paints for crafty kids, Magformers and MagTiles, Pusheen Stuffed Cat and other plush crafts.  

Kids – Anything unicorn, Squishables, STEM projects from Geek & Co. like Make-Your-Own Slime, Jellycat stuffed animals, New Rubik’s Cubes.

Tweens/Teens – Slime and putty, PuraVida bracelets, Ann Williams crafts to create jewelry and decorations for their rooms, and PopSockets for phones. 

Learning Express 

315 South Rand Road, Lake Zurich

Their motto and strategy can be summarized in three letters: 

T – They strive to find the best Team to service their customers. Team members are all educated, service-driven and understand the company’s mission. 

P – They also carry the best Products that kids really want. 

W – Everything falls into place in their Wow environment with toy demos, free gift wrap, character visits, play dates, seminars for kids and more. 

The fun: Visit on Nov. 11 for a  fun celebration with crafts, visits from Paw Patrol (1-2 p.m.) and Peppa Pig (3-4 p.m.) along with raffle and giveaways. They’ll also have free crafts and demos hosted by Spirograph (10-11:30 a.m.) 

Recommended hot holiday gifts:

Fingerling Monkeys by WowWee Toys 

L.O.L. Surprise! dolls by MGA

Sequin pillows by various companies for tweens

Auto Moto transforming robot and car R/C

Brilliant Sky Toys & Books

21540 W Field Pkwy, Deer Park

The family-owned-and-operated business (Their family makes up half of the staff!) takes pride on their outstanding customer service and their unique inventory. They go the extra mile for every customer and treat them as if they are a member of their family. They offer special events, a birthday registry program and free gift wrapping. 

The fun: To celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day, all the winning 2017 Best Toys For Kids products will be 20 percent off.

Recommended hot holiday gifts:

Gund Flappy the Elephant – Award winning and proven best seller

Melissa & Doug Fresh Mart Grocery Store – Great pretend and play, great value and a unique play set.

Modarri Cars Transporter – Take apart carts that are interchangeable, and dads love the look of these, too!

Great STEM products from Thames & Kosmos like the Crystal Rock Growing or Mechanical Engineering Robotic Arm 

Anything with sequins (pillows, backpacks, journals) for girls 5 and up.

Looking for more toy suggestions? Check out the Chicago Parent annual holiday gift guide!

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