Playful Minds was one of the first retailers on #StClairWest
Now in its 11th year of business, Playful Minds was one of the first retailers on its newly developed strip of St. Clair West. With nearby community schools in the area and several children’s boutiques starting up, owner Sam Care knows what it takes to keep the business successful.
“I’ve been doing it a long time. I really shop for quality toys” says Care. “I have awesome staff and everyone has an input on what we put in the store. There’s an emphasis on product knowledge, the prices are good and we offer quality customer service.”
The quality service offered at Playful Minds includes free gift wrapping, loot bag assembly, and a loyalty points program.
As well as lots of retail experience, having a child is what motivated Care to open her own store for children’s toys.
“I couldn’t find any place for quality toys. I remember my first time having to do loot bags for my son and I had no idea where to get them” she says. “I went to Toys R Us and was overwhelmed and just couldn’t believe the low quality of some of the stuff in there. I went to a neighbourhood toy store instead and that changed my thoughts on toys.”
When shopping for which toys to sell in the store, Care says she considers quality, play value, where it’s made and how it’s made. For her, a deciding factor is whether or not she would let her son play with it, and if he would enjoy it.
Playful Minds carries well-known children’s brands such as Groovy Girls, Klutz, Melissa and Doug, among many more.
A member of the St. Clair West community for over 20 years, Care says she wouldn’t have never opened her business in a different neighbourhood. “I live, work and spend all my money in this area. I’m a part of this community outside of work” she says.
“When you own a small business, you have to support your community as well. We give donations to all the area schools, it’s always a give-and-take, and our community has definitely supported the business.”
Playful Minds is a member of the Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS), a network of specialty toy stores that work together to provide their communities with top-notch products and customer service. Annually, the store celebrates NETS day in November with games and activities.
Success rarely comes without a bit of struggle, and Care says there’s a new obstacle to deal with weekly. “Whether you’re dealing with road construction, weather or power outages, there’s always something” she says.
Despite the obstacles, Care is still set on expanding her business by planning to launch online shopping for her customers within the year.
By Emily Westover, Staff Writer