It’s rare to find a high quality, locally-owned, brick and mortar toy store nowadays — after all, even that childhood staple, Toys R Us, couldn’t last forever. That’s why when Smartickles Toy Store contacted Northeast Ohio Parent to tell us about their new look, I gladly volunteered for the assignment.
Located in Medina, Smartickles is one branch of Bennett’s, a family-owned business that operates the toy store, in addition to a pet boarding and grooming facility, and an outdoor area that offers swing sets, outdoor furniture, storage buildings and more. The company was founded in 1976 and is now in its second generation, with owners Steve and Julie Bennett at the helm.
Smartickles itself was added to the company’s offerings nine years ago, according to Julie Bennett, who says, “Because so many families were coming in and out for the other parts of the business, we decided to add a toy store. Since then, we truly have something for everyone.”
While you won’t find the latest action figures, Barbies or Hot Wheels at Smartickles, you will find a large selection of educational toys, unique books, games for all ages, life-like dolls, outdoor toys, wooden toys, and much more. Bennett meticulously chooses each item the store stocks, poring over countless catalogs.
“We’re selling the things I wanted to buy for my kids when they were younger,” she says.
So, what’s new for 2018? The store’s rearranged layout allows for more shelving — and in turn, more products. There are more games, a larger stock of outdoor play toys, a new retro section that features classic toys parents likely grew up playing with, and more travel and activity pads (which will be on sale in June, just in time for summer travel). There’s also a children’s play area, so kids can have fun playing in the toy kitchen, at the make-believe grocery store, or with various toys and puzzles, while mom and dad shop.
“We’re trying to be bigger and better,” Bennett says. “Since Toys R Us announced it was closing, more and more people are finding us.”
Bigger and better doesn’t translate to becoming more like a typical big box retailer, however, as the staff at Smartickles continues to offer free gift wrapping, one-on-one customer service, and even helps shoppers choose the perfect birthday gift for a particular child.
“We’ll show them the latest and greatest products and help them pick a gift based on a child’s interests, age, etc.,” Bennett explains. “Many times, we’ve had busy parents stop in on their way to a child’s birthday party. We get them set up with a great gift, wrap it for them, and then they’re on their way to the party.”
In keeping with the theme of having something for everyone, Smartickles also has a women’s gift section, which includes Finchberry handcrafted soap, Silver Forest jewelry, Chala handbags, and more.
“We started using the tagline ‘Best Toy Store Ever’ because we heard our customers saying it so often,” Bennett notes.
Smartickles is located at 986 Medina Road, Medina. The store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Visit www.smarticklestoys.com for more information.
Follow the Northeast Ohio Parent Facebook page and look for a special giveaway from Smartickles! The contest will take place May 8-9.