Brian and Laura Hayden are living every kid’s dream — they own a toy and candy store.
The Bradford West Gwillimbury couple recently opened Experience Toys and Games on Holland Street downtown, and they are hoping to inspire nostalgia and plenty of fun.
“You can do a lot of stuff that can make it look like a classic toy store. There were a lot more independent toy stores when I was a kid,” said Brian Hayden, adding customers sometimes share their stories about old toy stores and favourite toys such as Transformers or G.I. Joes.
“People can come down here and window shop. Downtown really needs something like this.”
Inside the store at 33 Holland St. E., brightly-coloured toys are packed into displays — sparkly sequined bags, plush toys for infants, intricate metal Star Wars model kits, Lite Hawk remote-control cars, Tutti Frutti modelling dough, Cobble Hill puzzles, play teepees for indoors and outdoors, Shopkins, Melissa & Doug wooden toys, and more.
“We have a massive variety here,” said Hayden.
There are two back rooms in the store — one operating as The Candy Shoppe, with racks of candy from which to choose, and an open play room for kids to entertain themselves while their parents shop.
The open play room can also be rented out for meetings, events and parties, with different options to choose from for birthday party add-ons, such as a visit from ZooTek animals.
The store will also be offering virtual-reality games, where people can either rent the room to play the games two players at a time — with screens for other people to watch what is happening — or participate in special virtual reality nights hosted by the Hayden’s.
Each virtual-reality game lasts between five and 15 minutes, said Brian Hayden.
“There’s nothing like that even close to this area. We want to bring this here,” he said.
Experience Toys also plans on hosting board game nights.
The Hayden’s decided to open a toy store after talking about what types of stores they felt BWG was missing.
“I was sitting on the couch one night and said, ‘You just want to open a toy store?’ She turned to me and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ It’s a lot of work. I couldn’t do this without family or friends,” said Brian Hayden, adding his parents, Joanne and Al Hayden of Newmarket have been a huge help in getting started.
One thing that is important to Brian and Laura Hayden is carrying as many local and Canadian products as possible in the store.
While some products come from companies overseas, they all arrive at the store through Canadian distributors, said Brian Hayden.
Experience Toys also carries some Canadian-made toys and games, such as the game Honeycombs, and Tutti Frutti modelling dough similar to Play-Doh but it never dries out.
It also sells handcrafted wooden toys made by a woman in Innisfil.
“It’s really hard to find local people. Just finding vendors is hours upon hours of work,” said Hayden, noting any locals who make toys, games or candy are more than welcome to contact the store about selling their products there.
“If you’ve got something that can work for me, we can do business.”
In the meantime, the Hayden’s are content just living the dream.
“There could be worse retail businesses to run than a toy store,” he said.
For more information, visit the Experience Toys and Games Facebook page.
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