In days of yesteryear, local toy shop ranked as kids’ neighborhood nerve centers. Children exchanged soda bottles for five cents apiece, dragged along their younger siblings and saved allowance and gift money for months just to buy the perfect toy. Toys back then lasted a while; they weren’t an ever-rotating string of broken parts made overseas. That neighborhood feel and knowledge of toys still exists throughout the Philadelphia area at these, the city’s best locally owned toy stores.
Oxford Circus Toys
8127 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
As a winner of Main Line’s Best Toy Stores, Oxford Circus knows how to tickle the fancy of kids of all ages. Located in the heart of Chestnut Hill, the welcoming store beautifully blends the best of classic toys with modern European-style creations. The small but aesthetically pleasing specialty toy boutique is big on books, games, and pull and plush baby toys. It also carries whimsies from around the world including craft kits, costumes, castles, trains, rockets and even old-fashioned paper dolls.
Happily Ever After
1010 Pine St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Despite its location on Antique Row, this dazzling tableau of toys specializes in new items that pull from the past to inspire new toys. The family-owned shop features pop culture playthings including Winnie-the-Pooh, Raggedy Ann, Curious George and Kewpie as well as more familiar faces to the younger set, such as Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank and Fancy Nancy. There’s not a lot of loud, plastic, battery-operated items here. Customers will find, however, a wide selection of quality dolls, puppets, bears and toys along with knowledgeable, friendly staff who are happy to suggest age-appropriate gifts.
Related: Best Toy Stores in Philadelphia
Busy Bee Toy Shop
38 East State St.
Doylestown, PA 18901
Located 39 miles from Center City, Busy Bee Toy Shop is worth the trip for those who want to team playtime with brain time. This small family-owned store carries games and toys from around the world to tease the mind, develop skills and encourage just plain fun. Gone are video games, electronic gadgets and cheap, plastic playthings. Instead, old-fashioned wood and tin toys, tea sets, paper dolls, marionettes, puppets and puzzles line the shelves. Parents may satisfy their own inner children with classic toys such as Jacks-in-the-box, colorful spinning tops, Slinkys and Etch-a-Sketches. As added bonuses, it hosts Family Game Night monthly, and art, music and Spanish classes here keep synapses snapping.
839 1/2 W. Lancaster Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
This family-owned, award-winning wonderland may be small in size, but it stocks thousands of fun toys. Everything from classic brands such as Playmobil, Bruder and Melissa & Doug to hot new favorites including Buckyballs, Alex Duct Tape crafts and Kaskey Kids line the shelves of this playtime paradise. The friendly staff really knows its stock and offers great recommendations for any special little tike. As added conveniences, take advantage of the shop’s discount shipping and free wrapping service if you prefer to shop online.
Nicholas Smith Toys and Trains
2343 W. Chester Pike
Broomall, PA 19008
Founded in 1909, Nicholas Smith Toys and Trains originally was located in Center City Philadelphia before moving to Broomall in the early 1980s. In fact, Nicholas Smith was the very first Lionel Train dealer in the United States. Today, the shop is one of the largest train stores in the world, with a whole floor dedicated to an incredible selection of electric trains. There’s even a set-up for the kids to watch. Besides its classic trains, the first floor of the store is packed with an amazing variety of favorite toy brands including Playmobil, Hot Wheels, Lego, Breyer and, of course, Thomas the Tank engine.
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Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.