Not every toy store is created equal, as all mamas know. The best ones offer a fabulous selection of thoughtfully-selected items, with a knowledgeable staff dedicated to helping you choose just the right item. At my own local toy store I can walk in and say, “I want to spend $20 on a birthday gift for a four-year-old boy, and I don’t know anything about him,” and the staff come up with amazing suggestions. So where should you shop for educational toys, cool finds and just plain fun? Here are five Vancouver toy stores to check out – plus one in the Fraser Valley that’s worth making the drive for.
No visit to Granville Island is complete with out stopping by the Kids Market, and no visit to the Kids Market is complete without a visit to the Granville Island Toy Company. They’ve been catering to local kids for more than 25 years with a wide selection of brands. You’ll find LEGO, Playmobil, Hape, Thomas & Friends, Schleich … and the list goes on. In 2007 they opened a second location on Main Street, meaning this is two Vancouver toy stores in one.
*Photo courtesy of Granville Island Toy Company
Dilly Dally is where to look for a great toy or gift on Commercial Drive. They stock a wide variety of toys from around the world, with the goal of inspiring creativity and play. They take the time to research and select the best toys for your family, taking the guesswork out of shopping. From blocks to marble mazes, from books to LEGO, from science kits to Playmobil, they’re worth checking out for all the little ones in your life.
*Photo courtesy of Dilly Dally Kids
If you have a feel for old-fashioned, wooden toys, you’ll want to pay a visit to Knotty Toys in the Kids Market on Granville Island. You’ll find toys that you played with. For that matter, you’ll find toys your grandparents played with. They carry brands like Brio, Hape and Tegu, and they stock a wide range of items. Musical instruments, furniture, push toys, wooden trains, teething toys, baby toys, blocks, play kitchens … if you like playthings that don’t require batteries, this is the place to shop.
*Photo courtesy of Knotty Toys
With locations on Granville Island, in Point Grey and on Cambie, Kaboodles has Vancouver toys stores in neighbourhoods all across the city. They have friendly staff who know their stuff, and who are happy to help you find just the right toy from their selection of brands from big to small. One of our favourite gift ideas? Fill a bright plastic bucket with toys and they’ll cello wrap it for you. It makes for a beautiful (and, depending on what you fill it with, affordable) present for kids from babies on up.
*Photo courtesy of Kaboodles
Raspberry Kids is primarily an online shop, but local mom Sue Sinclair has worked hard to create a business with a local feel. She carefully curates her selection of toys, books, baby care items, decor and school gear. The business searches out “fresh, healthy and fun” items that you can browse at home in your pajamas. You can also arrange a time to visit their warehouse in Shaughnessy – you’ll feel like you’re in a secret toy heaven.
If you find yourself in Langley, Toy Traders is one of the best Metro Vancouver toy stores going. They also accept your used toys in exchange for store credit. If you’re on a budget you can find some great second-hand items, but they also have a huge selection of new items and collectibles. In fact, many parents have a better time there than their kids. I was seriously tempted by some Princess Bride figurines, I’ll admit it. A quick word to the wise: keep more timid kids in the front of the store and away from the life-sized statues and displays in the back. They’ll have more fun at the train table, anyway.
*Photo courtesy of Toy Traders