Even though she’s an adult, Shari Bricks Zeiler hasn’t outgrown toys.
The owner of Toytown, which is celebrating 60 years in business, has been a fixture at the city’s oldest independent toy store since her parents took over the shop when she was 14 years old.
“Toytown has been here since 1952,” Bricks Zeiler says from the back of the store on Avenue Road and St. Germain Avenue. “The original owners were the Pollicks but they were getting to retirement age and looking for someone that would be a great fit for taking over the business and my dad just happened to come along.”
Working at the shop since 1984, Bricks Zeiler has seen children of customers become shoppers at the store buying for their own kids, she says.
“We have generations of people that we know very personally that have come here and shopped and we’ve seen them grow up and I think that’s one of the best things,” she says. “They liked us back then and they still like us now.”
Her staff has become so well known in the community, a young boy from the area used one of her employees as an example of someone he looked up to in the neighbourhood for a school project, Bricks Zeiler says.
“I thought that was very nice,” she says. “That just says it all really.”
Bricks Zeiler also hopes she educate her customers on the fact that kids love to play along with their parents.
“They love to interact so to give them electronic devices like an iPad or an iTouch, something where they’re just playing with themselves by themselves might be easy for the parents but it’s not the best thing to do for their children,” she says. “We love to recommend games and crafts and things that kids can do with other kids and that kids can do with their parents.”
Although she’s been approached about opening multiple locations in the GTA, expansion plans aren’t in her future, she says.
“I think what makes it charming to come here is the fact that we have control over this location,” she says. “I like the fact that we are a destination.”
Bricks Zeiler says she enjoys hosting events for the community and customers. As part of an organization called the Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada, Toytown is hosting several events throughout the month including Neighbourhood Toy Store Day on Nov. 10 during which toyshops throughout the country host a variety of activities and events.
“Since I grew up in this business I don’t consider it coming to work everyday,” Bricks Zeiler says. “It’s part of my life.”
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