The latest update for this article is written by Lindsay Podolak.
There’s nothing quite as magical as stepping through the doors of an authentic, old-school toy store. With warm and welcoming atmospheres, local toy shops are staffed with friendly, attentive folks who love children and genuinely want to make them smile. New Jersey is home to several wonderful independent toy stores that carry a great selection, including many unique items you won’t find in those big retail stores.
Many of these locations also offer personalization and gift wrapping to make your shopping even easier. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or just want to treat your kids to a fun afternoon, these shops won’t disappoint.
Big Fun Toys
Location: 602 Washington Street, Hoboken
Details: The motto at Big Fun Toys is “shop yourself silly!” For more than 15 years, Big Fun Toys has been Hoboken’s go-to spot for delightful items that are perfect for both young children and the young at heart. Manager Kathleen Childs works closely with the store owner to find both high-quality educational products, as well as comically random toys. This great neighborhood shop also hosts special events for kids, including craft nights.
Why I like it: Not near North Jersey? There is another Big Fun Toys in Point Pleasant Beach with the same collection of top-rated toys.
More info: www.bigfuntoys.com or call 201-714-9575
Location: 25 Palmer Square East, Princeton
Details: To say that the folks at JaZams carefully select the toys and books they sell is an understatement. Store owner Joanne Faruggia and her staff search around the globe for beautifully designed and finely constructed toys and books. They stay up-to-date on the newest and coolest items and have personally tested nearly all of the products on their shelves. Located in the heart of downtown Princeton, the store often hosts special events such as book signings and musical programs.
Why I like it: If you’re unsure about what to purchase, store employees will take the time to help you select the perfect gift…just one of the reasons why this toy store gets rave reviews.
More info: www.jazams.com or call 609-924-8697
Just Kidding Around
Location: 507 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair
Details: Montclair’s Just Kidding Around carries a wide range of games, toys, books and puzzles. The friendly staff is always on hand to make sure you leave with the perfect toy or gift to inspire the children in your life. Choose from action figures, puppets, trains and wooden toys, or stop in for some hands-on fun during their craft nights.
Why I like it: New owners Nissa Murphy and Chelsea Smith, who took over in September, are excited to maintain the small-town feel of the toy store while implementing exciting new changes in the coming months.
More info: www.kiddingaroundtoys.com or call 973-233-9444
Location: 119 Main Street, Manasquan
Details: Named for owner Jenny Robertson’s daughter Quinn, this whimsical store has been a staple of the Manasquan community for more than 13 years. Ms. Robertson personally hand-picks each toy found on the store’s shelves. The eclectic offerings include dress up skirts, marionettes and art supplies. Smiling staff members are available to help guests choose a special present. The store also offers complimentary gift wrapping, as well as free personalization.
Why I like it: Follow Quinderella’s on Instagram to get updates on when the hottest new toys like LOL Dolls and Squash Buddies are in stock.
More info: www.bigfuntoys.com or call 732-223-1124
The Toy Chest
Location: 335 High Street, Hope
Details: Take a step back in time at The Toy Chest. This adorable store sells toys for everyone, both young and old. Their unique inventory includes both classic favorites and new, exciting items. Specializing in collectibles and reproductions, the store boasts a large collection of mini figures, retro video games and dolls. Customers often stop in to shop for their children and end up leaving with a few goodies for themselves, too.
Why I like it: Online shopping is available on the website if you can’t make it into the store, plus it has the same great selection! Check out the store’s “Top 21” list on the homepage to see the most popular toys.
More info: www.thetoychestllc.com or call 908-459-0494
Location: 200 Bellevue Avenue, Hammonton
Details: Toy Market is South Jersey’s largest independent toy store. The shop features a wide variety of toys not carried by larger retailers, including puppets, games, puzzles and books. The well-trained staff provides a great shopping experience, educating shoppers on buying toys that will be enjoyed for a long time. The shop also offers fun monthly events for customers. Past highlights include arts & crafts activities, a dinosaur dig, American Girl parties and a “Touch a Truck” event.
Why I like it: Customers rave about the excellent customer service, from gift wrapping to toy selection to no-hassle returns.
More info: www.mytoymarket.com or call 609-561-2121
The Toy Professor
Location: 430 Springfield Avenue, Summit
Details: This shop’s owners know that play is “serious business” for kids. The bright and cheerful store encourages children to play and explore, with plenty of demonstration toys and a large play area in the back that features tents, vehicles, dolls, kitchens and more. Owners Geoff and Linda Stern only stock toys that pass their “play value evaluation,” which means each toy is engaging enough to maintain children’s interest. The experts at The Toy Professor make every effort to ensure their customers leave with a toy that is a perfect fit for its recipient.
More info: www.toyprofessor.com or call 908-918-1888
Twirl Toy Shop
Location: 10 N. Main Street, Pennington
Details: Come visit Twirl Toy Shop, where “toy testers are always welcome.” A specially curated selection of products for preschoolers, elementary kids and ‘tweens, plus an array of STEM toys mean there is something for everyone here. Gift wrapping is always free, and Twirl can also put together goody bags for your next party.
Why I like it: Call and place a gift order over the phone and it will be ready when you arrive, plus a staff member can even run your wrapped present out to the car. Now that’s first-class service!
More info: www.twirltoyshop.com or call 609-737-4386
Wonder World Toys
Location: 23 South Main Street, Medford
Details: Located in the heart of historic Medford, Wonder World Toys offers a wide variety of fun, interesting toys from around the world. They carry everything from Legos and Shopkins to Green Toys that are made in the USA. There’s always something going on at this great little store, including local fundraisers and kid craft days. The staff at Wonder World Toys, known for their great customer service, will even wrap and ship your purchases for you.
Why I like it: You can host a birthday party at Wonder World Toys and choose from a craft, superhero, tea, pet, spa or Lego-themed celebration.
More info: www.wonderworldmedford.com or call 609-953-1118
Looking for more locally-owned stores in the Garden State? Click here to find The Best Independent Stores in New Jersey.