School’s out and summer’s in! Looking for a place to visit on your summer road trip? Why not June’s Store of the Month, Toys for Thought, in Lakewood, New Jersey. Raphael nominated this fabulous store because he was so charmed by their big purple house, and they carry all our games! I had the wonderful pleasure of talking to the store owner, Harold Herskowitz about this amazing toy store.
Toys for Thought had very humble beginnings. 17 years ago, before it was the 3-story, 14,000-square-foot masterpiece it was today, it was a terribly rundown shack on 3rd Street. “You think I’m joking, but it was literally a crack house,” Harold told me. Harold and his team wanted to make this shack something better that the whole community would enjoy. So they set out to renovate the building. Early renditions of Toys for Thought painted the building pale yellow and green to keep with a historic theme. However, as time went on, the team decided to dress it in the purple that colors the palace today.
Most of the store’s visitors don’t just look for games, but they also come to see the store itself. Harold explained that he wants the store to be an incredible place for everyone who visits. The store is carpeted to make everyone feel at home, and game demos decorate the game section. Of course, the staff is more than willing to help you find what you need in a hurry. If anyone comes in needing a quick gift for a birthday or celebration, the staff is always ready to scour their mansion for the perfect toy.
Harold’s favorite part about owning a toy store is seeing the new toys that come out. He especially loves games, selling as many as 1,000 games in the store. In our conversation, Harold emphasizes that he doesn’t just sell what’s popular. He sells games that he enjoys playing. “If there’s a reason I like it, then there’s a reason someone will buy it.” He loves all the Blue Orange Games and buys all the games from every line. Harold said that Blue Orange is an experienced distributor and with that experience we “understand what a store needs.” His favorite games are Gobblet and Dr. Eureka, and Fastrack, Dr. Microbe, Tumble Tree, and Flying Kiwis have been great sellers in the store.
While the massive 3-story toy store is an amusing struggle to maintain, the biggest challenges Toys for Thought faces is the ever-growing online sales industry. Toys for Thought prides itself on being a store where visitors come to experience the joys of toys and childhood. However, with Amazon and other online distributors becoming more popular, it’s a struggle for smaller toy stores to stay ahead of the curve, even though they offer hands-on opportunities to experience the toys and games. Harold tries to stay ahead by emphasizing the valuable experience his store has to offer with their star customer service and opportunities to demo the toys they sell.
Toys for Thought has grown alongside us, and it has been a joy working with them across this journey of nearly two decades. We proudly award them June’s Store of the Month. Please visit this fabled purple palace at \ 310 3rd Street in Lakewood, New Jersey or visit them online here. Congratulations again!