Neighborhood Toy Store Day is Saturday, November 11, 2017, and for the second year, The Rock Father™ has teamed-up with ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailer Association) to help spread the word as we officially kick-off the holiday shopping season!
I’ve said it before, but in the age of the online retail and the big box, toy stores are more important than ever, and your independent neighborhood toy store is a place where families can get personalized customer service and go hands-on with many of the season’s hottest holiday toys. Many store owners have even earned the ASTRA Certified Play Expert (CPE) designation after completing a rigorous training program that teaches the science behind the power of play in relation to a child’s development stages and learning styles. Additionally, the Play Experts at ASTRA have named their picks for the 2017 Best Toys for Kids – and these are toys that might be a little off-the-radar of the mainstream, but absolutely worth checking out at a participating retailer near you!
The 2017 Best Toys for Kids Winners are:
- ACTIVE PLAY Laser X 2-Pack (NSI)
- BOTS Smart Bot Robot (Playvision)
- CHOOSE YOUR OWN CATEGORY Zipes Speed Pipes Performance Pack (Neat-Oh! International)
- CLASSIC 0-7 YEARS Topanifarm (Djeco)
- CLASSIC PLAY 8+ YEARS Doink it Darts (Marky Sparky)
- CONSTRUCTIVE PLAY Geomatrix (California Creations)
- CONSTRUCTIVE PLAY Remote-Control Machines: Construction Vehicles (Thames & Kosmos)
- CREATIVE ARTS PLAY 7+ YEARS Linkt Crafts Kits Bubble Loops (Neat-Oh! International)
- CREATIVE PLAY UNDER 7 YEARS The Ultimate Brick Maker (Relevant Play)
- DOLL PLAY Rahel from Ethiopia (Hearts for Hearts Girls)
- EARLY PLAY SmartMax My First Safari Animals (Smart Toys and Games, Inc.)
- FAMILY GAME NIGHT SLAPZI (Carma Games)
- GAME PLAY 2-5 YEARS Cha-Cha Chihuahua (Gamewright)
- GAME PLAY 5-8 YEARS Go Go Gelato! (Blue Orange Games)
- GAME PLAY 8+ YEARS Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games)
- LOGIC SKILLS Roller Coaster Challenge (ThinkFun)
- PRETEND – ROLE/FANTASY PLAY My Magical Sound & Lights Unicorn (Gund)
- SCIENTIFIC PLAY Snap Circuits STEM (Elenco)
As retailers celebrate the launch of the holiday season, they’ll be having special events (varied by store) that may include character appearances, giveaways, contests, special play sessions, sale pricing and more. Many neighborhood toy stores also offer wish list pulls, gift wrapping and personalized assistance to help families get the best out of their play!
Pictured: The Rock Daughters™ at Learning Express
Being in the Chicagoland area, I always like to shout-out a few great toy stores that come to mind here in the North ‘Burbs –Snickelfritz in Vernon Hills, Beanstalk in Highland Park and Learning Express in Lake Zurich. In the City proper, Building Blocks Toys has two locations, with a ton of fun at each!
This Saturday, November 11, 2017, be sure to visit your local independent toy store for Neighborhood Toy Store Day 2017. And don’t let the fun stop there! Shop your neighborhood toy store throughout the holiday season and year-round for a carefully curated assortment of some of the best, award-winning toys around! Learn more and find a store at ASTRA.org!
Extra thanks to ASTRA not only for sponsoring this post, but also for sending over an assortment of this year’s “Best Toys for Kids.” These toys will be donated to local families in need as part of my annual #RockFatherSanta Holiday Toy Delivery Program, now in its fourth year.