This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 6-year-old daughter Viva, who will not let the death of Geoffrey the Giraffe curtail her consumerist habits.
Last week I presented you with a requiem for Toys”R”Us, the mecca of retail toys and repository of memories that seems to be vanishing forever (maybe not in Canada, but Canada is far). Even though TRU may be ringing up the curtain and joining the choir invisible, birthdays, Christmas and your child’s appetite for stuff and things survives. Where to buy bikes, planes and video games now? And for your own spiritual health, where can you browse games, action figures and geekery? Well, there’s always Amazon when you need things right away and also want to hasten the death of civilization. There’s Target when you need tie-ins to the latest movies and cartoons, and similarly want to kill the American downtown. But when it’s time to buy a gift, and shop responsibly as well, here are some local businesses I hope get a bounce from the impending death of “the world’s greatest toy store.”
Toys et Cetera has two locations. I’ve only personally visited the Andersonville location, but if the other one is anywhere near as organized and pleasant as the aforementioned, I’d recommend them. Last minute shower or party? You won’t leave empty handed and their gift wrapping is top notch, plus they have a rack of what I’d call “high-end” plastic figurines of animals and dinosaurs.
Andersonville location, 5311 N. Clark St., Chicago
Hyde Park location, 1502 E. 55th St., Chicago
Timeless Toys carries just that — and a good deal of them. Puppets, games, building sets, European imports; you won’t leave feeling icked out by mountains of licensing and plastic here. And it’s in Lincoln Square, so once your child has played in there you can head to the next spot on my list.
4749 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Quake Collectibles is more for Dad than for the little one, but it’ll scratch some of your “walking around Toys”R”Us in the ‘80s” itch and is worth a visit to teach your kids about the classics: GI Joe, He-Man, and deep cuts like Insectoids or Bionic Six. This is a vintage shop with piles — literally — of mostly ‘70s-’90s stuff. It’s musty and weird and I could spend all afternoon there.
4749 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
In a similar vein (a store for Dads) I recommend Ka-Pow Collectibles. This place is packed — PACKED — with memories you need to repurchase. USS Flagg, I’ll own you again someday.
711 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago
Evanstonians, look no farther than Becky & Me for toys, gifts and art materials. I head in here if we’re off to a birthday or if it’s a rainy day and we need a craft to get us through. Lovely shop.
620 Grove St., Evanston
If you’re headed up to the North Shore, I highly recommend The Village Toy Shop. A cozy 70-year-old toy shop that’s been owned and operated by the charming Berwanger family for nearly 40 of those years, The Village Toy Shop is nestled in picturesque downtown Winnetka and the setting and the shop are definitely worth a visit. You’ll get any advice you need and they wrap well, too.
807 Elm St. Winnetka
No list of toys stores would be complete without Building Blocks, though I have yet to visit with Viva. But Chicago Parent staffers love this store and describe it as a little toy store with a lot of charm. Here’s where you’ll find the hot toys, but also those unique toys that will enchant and empower kids. You can even personalize select toys at Building Blocks with kids’ names and initials. Insider tip: Ask for the complimentary gift wrapping! Good to know.
2130 W. Division St., Chicago
3306. N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
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