With the abundance of children in Danforth East, it’s a wonder it took until this fall for the strip’s first toy store to open. It’s been a similarly long journey for Silly Goose Kids’ owners — Tracey Jacobs and Shamie Ramgoolam have several decades of experience between them in the Toronto toy world. Opening their own outfit is the culmination of several years of dreaming and and one big reno of a store that had sat empty for several years.
The two know their target market — the space is wide and stroller-friendly and a back-of-store play area aims to be a gathering place for parents and kids, complete with change table and chairs for storytelling. “Everyone who walks in a gets a big smile on their face,” says Shamie. “They’re excited to have a store like this in the ‘hood.”
First-time parents bracing themselves for the plastic-clogged, primary-coloured stores of their youth will be pleasantly surprised — Silly Goose has an eye for quality and design, with an emphasis on classic, non-battery-powered toys. “We believe in toys and gear that are well made — toys of integrity,” Shamie says.
Stock is a mix of the well-known and the locally-made — “we run from zero to 10-years-old safely,” says Shamie, “and can find things for older kids, plus games for families” — and ranges from shelves filled with books at the back to baby gear, clothing, toys from Playmobil, Plan Toys and enough birthday-party-ready gifts (including science sets) to satisfy even parents with the most hectic, kid-fuelled social calendar. (A loyalty program offers discounts for frequent shoppers.)
After discovering a pocket of French speakers in the neighbourhood, Tracey and Shamie started stocking books and games en Français; a trove of phthalate- and- BPA-free sippy cups and lunch gear that will fuel inter-generational brown-bagging.
For first-time parents, there’s organic cotton onesies that read “I [trike] the Danforth,” $27.99 and locally-made sleep sacks ($49.99) from Wee Urban; for parents of toddlers and beyond, a selection of mouse-eared and felt-adorned caps from Toronto’s Patouche ($36.99) and sturdy shoes from Tom’s; a company that donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair sold.
Coming up to the year’s busiest shopping time, Shamie predicts Fastrack ($24.99) — an addictive blend of Pong and air hockey that’s ideal for holiday family tournaments — will be a best-seller.
And Silly Goose is making it easier to make the annual gift-buying frenzy philanthropic — the store is is participating in a toy drive in support of the Woodgreen community centre; taking donations, keeping a registry of toys and games for the centre’s kids and offering up gift-wrapping at $1 in support of making family’s holiday a little brighter.