Shop Local on Neighborhood Toy Store Day!

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With Black Friday set to descend upon us like a Biblical plague, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to dodge the onslaught of newspaper inserts, TV ads and consumer gossip about all those obscene post-Thanksgiving deals. Big-box retailers promise door-busting sales the likes of which our humble society has never seen. I don’t know about you, but the nightmarish phrase “door-busting sale” is enough to convince me to stay home in the comfort of my turkey-induced coma.

For local, independent toy stores, Kazoodles included, it’s impossible to compete with million-dollar ad campaigns and mind-boggling discounts. But why should anybody be competing for the right to incite a crazed, late-night stampede anyway? In response to all the hullabaloo, the world of local toy stores united to bring a better holiday shopping solution: Neighborhood Toy Store Day.

Neighborhood Toy Store Day, happening this Saturday, was created in 2010 by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) to encourage consumers to shop at local toy stores instead of big-box and online retailers. The day turned into an annual event — always held the second Saturday of November — and now comes complete with events and celebrations at more than 600 independent toy stores across the country.

It’s bound to be a day of fun, but there’s also an important message: Shop local.

According to the 3/50 Project, $68 of every $100 spent locally returns to the community in taxes, salaries, charitable contributions, etc. In contrast only $43 of every $100 spent at national chains returns to the community. It’s easy to imagine the benefit of supporting local store owners and employees over anonymous retail executives, but shopping local helps customers too.

The quality and selection at small toy stores is above and beyond what shoppers can expect to find at corporate retail chains. “Many of the toys you see at independent toy stores are not advertised on television and are mostly made by small manufacturers,” said ASTRA President Kathleen McHugh in a Neighborhood Toy Store Day press release. “It’s very important for consumers to understand the uniqueness and outstanding quality of toys found at their local toy store versus a national chain.”

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Preach! With an incredible array of independent toys on the market, why waste time and money on cheaply-made mass-produced nonsense? Despite multitudes of awards and heaps of praise from savvy moms and store managers alike, without those big ad campaigns most indpendent toys go unnoticed. To help shoppers find the best toys produced every year, ASTRA has created their own annual awards, Best Toys For Kids.

Toys are nominated by independent toy stores, as well as manufacturers. Toy stores alone vote on the nominees, whittling down the choices to a final list of 21 winners across 13 categories. The 2013 winners, announced recently, include some of my personal favorites: RingStix, Squigz and Q-BA-MAZE, to name a few.

These unique toys, and the stores that award them the honors, are at the heart of Neighborhood Toy Store Day. The annual event is a celebration of independence and quality at local toy stores the country over.

No strangers to festivities, we at Kazoodles will be throwing a little shindig ourselves. The store will be open our normal business hours Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., but the day will be filled with free events of all stripes (check out the schedule below).

The first 25 kiddos in the morning will get free goody bags, as well as the first 25 after 1 p.m. Your play perks points will be double for the day, meaning you’ll be that much closer to getting a great free toy for the holidays. We’ll also be hosting a toy drive for the Children’s Center in Vancouver, so feel free drop off donations for kids in need. Fun? Check. Deals? Check. Giving out toys to children in need? Big awesome check.

Come celebrate locally-owned toy stores and play all day long with us! Forget Black Friday, have a happy Neighborhood Toy Store Day!

Kazoodles’ Big Awesome Neighborhood Toy Store Day Schedule of Free Events!

10:00 a.m. Kids’ musician Tallulah’s Daddy
11:00 a.m. Meet Vicki Lewis, creator of Flipzles
1:30 p.m. Make block prints with the creators of Eye Can Art
3:00 p.m. Meet local authors Susie Slanina (“Metro the Little Dog” series) and Cheryl Linn Martin (“Hawaiian Island Detective Club” series)
4:00 p.m. Hands-on time! Choose either Foil Art or The Physics of Toys

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