*all pictured toys are from A Toy Garden
*The shirt my daughter is wearing is by Whimsical Walney, a company I'll be featuring within the week
I can hardly contain myself I am so very pleased to tell you all about a FANTASTIC company called A Toy Garden. The store offers the most beautiful and unique toys I’ve ever seen. Have you ever had an experience of going to a back street and finding a little shop where every corner of the store offers something you love? Where everything in the store is beautiful and just being around the items makes you smile with delight? This is how I feel when I look through the pages of A Toy Garden. If this were a brick and morter store, I imagine it would be the type to have the bells that jingle when the door opens, maybe a hint of patchoulli scent in the air, windsocks blowing on a porch with rockers, and tea served for the customers. I imagine the owner of the store would be the type of lady you want to hug and who always says exactly what you need to hear that day. Every time I go to this site, I don't just spend a few minutes looking around but literally hours. I get lost in fantasy and the store brings back memories of when I was a child pretending to play among the fairies, unicorns, and a land far, far away.
The second item for review is their set of herbal play bean bags. Again, huge praises for this wonderful item that surpasses any bean bags I’ve ever seen. These bean bags are homemade and come in a variety of cotton prints and are filled with organic herbs (lavender, mint, chamomile) and beans. The smell of the bean bags is amazing and bring a whole new element to the bean bags. (My daughter loves the smell as you can tell by the last picture below). Since having these bean bags for a little over a month, they have quickly became one of Zhana’s favorite toys. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks so as the website lists numerous positive customer comments about this product and it was named as One of the Best Toys of the Year by Mothering Magazine November 2005. These are A Toy Garden exclusive and I can’t say enough, how much I recommend them. They can be used for so many activities such as tossed, stacked, counted, used as doll furniture, dramatic play, and so much more. This lovely set of 8 sells for $20.00. Here is a direct link to them: http://www.atoygarden.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=22
The third item for review is the sewing apple. My little one has really enjoyed threading the wooden worm in and out of the sticking apple. It is an excellent tool of enhancing motor skills and practical skills. The apple is handmade from an old Walnut tree that was raised organically and only cut down when it stopped producing fruit. This item sells for $12.95. Here is a direct link to the item: http://www.atoygarden.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=868
Next up for review is the wool felted pizza. This gorgeous pizza is precut into four slices of dough and tomato sauce. The child is left to decorate the pizza with cheese, peppers, mushrooms, and pepperoni. It comes in a handwoven serving tray. This is handfelted in Nepal by a Fair Trade group. This is just a beautiful toy. One thing, I've come to realize is that children are able to recognize beauty and seem to play with toys that are handcrafted and made beautifully differently, almost with a sense of respect. This item sells for $19.95. Here is a direct link to the item: http://www.atoygarden.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=1171
*Wood Squirrel Puzzle: This puzzle is cut without a pattern. It is made by a community of people with disabilities. It retails for $14.95.
*Felt Mushroom House Set: Includes a needlefelted mushroom house, gnome, gnome's broom, and felted fire. This item is handmade. Retails for $49.95
*Crocheted Pot with Cakes and CookiesThe crocheted cookie pot is brown and decorated with crocheted flowers and vines. The flowers have colorful beads embedded in them to add to the charm. The pot is 8" across, 9" to the top of the lid and comes with 5 goodies to keep it stocked! There are two wool felted pieces of cake, two felted cookies and one felted cupcake. $59.95
Of course, I have to mention to kindness of a Toy Garden owner Sonya. I don't know her personally but I really get the sense that she is a kind person. Anyone who reguarly reads this blog knows how important that is to me! She was kind enough to answer a few interview questions so we can all get to know here better-
What is one of your most popular items?We specialize in many handmade and unique items. I’ve found and developed many of my crafters and we work closely to develop toys that I think my customers will enjoy. I love selling toys where I know who made them and what they are made out of. I especially love working with US crafters but we also get items made in Europe, Brazil, and other places around the world. We’ve traveled to Europe to find small family run companies that sell exclusively to us in the US. We speak German so we are able to communicate with small companies that have no US reps. Whenever possible, we buy from family run companies as opposed to larger companies. Some of our most popular items are gnomes, fairies, wooden vehicles and puzzles, books, handmade dolls, and always, our woolen undergarments and play silks (best quality and prices in the world)!
Q: What do you think makes your store unique?It is so much more healthy for children to have few quality and open ended toys than to have many brightly colored plastic or fabric toys. Most of our toys can be used in many creative ways, not just for 1 use. All of our gnomes, fairies, play silks, blocks, tree houses, vehicles, etc. can be mixed and matched and played with together to create stories and puppet shows and used in open ended play through the child’s imagination. Some toy companies focus on “gift sets” or toys that look impressive in a gift box but when opened up, they have little play value. We focus on looking at each item and examine how beautiful, well-made, and creative it can be used in child’s play. I personally test and select every toy I sell. If I don’t love it, I don’t sell it. My customers know they can call me or email me any time and I’ll answer the phone and help them out. We are real people and we want our customers to be happy. We stand by our products and frequently go above and beyond normal customer service to satisfy a customer. We ship as fast as possible and provide free gift wrap –many of our customers really like this service.