Published October 18, 2011
Volume 19, Number 10

Golden Apple Learning Store Is Full of Toys for Infants through Grown-ups

Owner John MacDougall shows off a “cubicle toy,” a soft and
safe bow-and-arrow set.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Long known for selling children’s educational toys to parents and teachers, Golden Apple Learning Store has added a new customer demographic: “park people.”

Owner John MacDougall noticed recently that more and more local employees were stopping by while patronizing the restaurants around his Gateway Square store, at 4807 Hopyard Road.

“The pattern seems to be that they wander in before or after lunch and buy something to take back to the office. Then they come back and bring friends,” MacDougall observes.  “We’re used to seeing moms with kids,” so at first the new customers—“guys with ties”—really stood out, he explains. “We figure that by the way they are dressed they are from the park or other nearby businesses.”

What attracts their attention is the wide selection of “cubicle toys”— things like the Tangle, a flexible plastic loop that invites twisting, or Buckyballs, the magnetic building spheres—perfect for hands that need to fidget while working or talking on the phone. Slingshots, puzzles, and wind-up toys are also big sellers. 

Some purchases are made as team toys. Customers are really interested in Tantrix, the strategic game of hexagonal tiles in which players vie to create the longest line or loop. “It’s very quiet and simple, but it can have multiple users, with everyone doing the challenge at the same time,” MacDougall reports. 

Whether for amusement or stress relief, MacDougall is happy to cater to this new trend. “I was just reading an article about how, in today’s economy, people are indulging themselves in little things that make them happy. The new toys we’re selling are probably in that category.”

The focus on products for grown-ups has not stopped Golden Apple from innovating in its original children’s market. MacDougall recently remodeled the store, having acquired fixtures that display the fun and educational toys more attractively. For the holidays he will be showcasing items on the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s Best Toys for Kids list—not the flashy gadgets that are heavily advertised, but the ones with the highest play value. He has also bolstered the selection of infant and baby toys in response to visits from new moms who drop in after attending Weight Watchers sessions next door.

Another change is the new party room, the perfect setting for specialty-themed birthday parties, fundraisers, and Golden Apple’s own classes, slated to debut soon. “Public schools have had cutbacks in arts and science programs. We love these subjects, so we decided to offer classes to fill in the gap. We are in the process of hiring instructors right now,” MacDougall comments.

In addition to weekly story times, Golden Apple  has two public events on the fall schedule. The first, on October 28, celebrates the rollout of the store’s holiday catalog with an appearance by local musician Andy Z. The second, Neighborhood Toy Store Day, on November 12, will include a fundraising jumpathon to benefit local schools. 

For more information, visit www.goldenappletoys.com.


Also in this issue ...