I’m still playing catch up on my countdown so let’s go for a twosie. A couple of weeks ago I was down in San Diego County checking on a couple of great toy stores, and if you are down that way, you should stop in and tell them Kim sent you.
Christy’s Toy Outlet is located 30 miles east of San Diego in Alpine. The first thing you will notice as you drive past USD and then SDSU is that your surroundings change quite a bit – the area is low-lying old mountains that catch the wintry light just right and make you feel as though you are no where close to the beach. The Viejas Outlet Mall has some of the big names you would expect – Nike, Gap, Osh Kosh by Gosh. But they also have this huge independent toy store owned by a fellow rep for specialty children’s products, Christy (you probably guessed that.) The appearance of the mall is very southwest, and truly very pleasant. And Christy’s Toy Outlet is a gem within this setting. With a number of years in the industry selling to other independent toy stores, Christy not only has a great eye, she literally has her finger on the pulse of what is selling and she makes sure she is well stocked in the hottest items. The selection is a little bit of everything meaning that when anybody walks in and asks for a specific item, her response is, “Yes, we have some of that. Try aisle…” What has been hot this season? Well, for one, this very cool single portion Mugz ice cream making machine. The coolest part is that the ingredients for which it calls are normal ice cream ingredients like milk, cream, and sugar – not some prepackaged mix that you need to make this yummy treat.
After leaving Christy’s that day, I headed to northern San Diego to check in with Totally Thomas’ Toy Depot, another great toy store.
As you may be thinking, this one specializes in Thomas and other train programs. If you are wondering why the store feels that the trains are such an important product, make sure you ask Cindy, the owner, when you are there. She has a vast amount of information on how playing with toy train systems when very young helps children with their math skills as they get older. It’s pretty interesting stuff. Of course, the store carries lots of other products as well, such as Hello Kitty, some great arts and crafts, and science as well. But the store is known for its train systems and one of my favorites is the Nuchi line which is designed in Sweden and made from European beechwood. The system is compatible with Thomas and the majority of other train systems. What I love about it is that they have a handful of complete systems that are ready to operate as is, or can be added to if the child embraces the idea. The pieces come in awesome boxes that highlight its gift nature and also give kids a great place to store the pieces after play.
Christy’s Toy Outlet, 5001 Willows Road, Suite 401, Alpine, CA (619) 659-9898
Totally Thomas Toy Depot, 11860 Carmel Mountain Road, Suite 212, San Diego, CA (858) 513-2479