A Golden Apple for the Teacher

Retail Outlet Offers Teachers' Supplies and Learning Toys for Children

Now in its 21st year, the Golden Apple Learning Store has found a new home in Hacienda's Gateway Square at the corner of Hopyard and Stoneridge.

The store caters to both area teachers and parents who seek educational materials, including toys and games, for their children.

"We started as a teachers' store 20 years ago, and the products available have changed a lot of new things have come out for parents," says John MacDougall, the store's owner. "We started adding more and more parent materials and now we have about a 50/50 mix. It's now the largest store of its kind in the East Bay and maybe Northern California."

A recent trip to the store found it humming with activity as children looked over toys and games and teachers picked out supplies for the coming school year.

"This time of year is very busy for back-to-school items, as teachers are getting their classrooms ready," says MacDougall. "During the rest of the year, we have a lot of things to help parents with homework skills, usually math- and reading-specific."

After 20 years, MacDougall adds, the store and its products are quite well known to area teachers.

"Most of the teachers in Pleasanton know about us, so they send parents in for specific things," he says.

An Evolving Inventory...

MacDougall explains that the store's inventory changes throughout the year, depending to a large degree on what is being taught in the classroom but also due to the holidays.

"In the middle of the school year, when third graders start getting into multiplication, we get a wave of people coming in for multiplication," he says. "This time of year, we get a lot of middle school parents coming in for algebra and geometry to give the children kind of a head start."

Golden Apple also has educational toys during the holidays, focusing on toys that are creative and promote thinking as well as playing.

"We don't carry any electronic toys," he says. "There are a few things that take batteries, very few, but nothing that does the work for the kid.

"That's kind of the rule the children have to do it. The toy can't entertain the kid; the kid has to be the motivation behind the toy."

...Changes Over Time

The store's products have changed over its 20 years as well.

"When we started, one of the most innovative products we had was a printed calendar for teachers," says MacDougall. "Teachers used to make them by hand on poster board, and a company came out with a pre-printed one and it was a revolutionary product."

These days, though, the inventory is large enough to warrant the move to their new 4,000 square foot space, four times the size of their original location.

"There are more products available and also the push is to get parents more involved with their childrens' education, so a lot more of them are getting the same materials the teachers use in the classroom."

With all those changes, it sounds like everyone is learning.

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