What toy store makes your hometown amazing? What favorite local toy store makes you feel all warm and fuzzy when you walk inside?

Well, let’s give them some love today (and everyday) because today happens to be National Toy Store Day, November 10th!
We are super appreciative and thankful to the funky, local toy stores that sell Pals so we can support them. It’s a beautiful cycle.

Note- It has not been sooooo easy to get toy stores to carry Pals Socks. Many toy stores like to be “toy focused” and are afraid to try apparel or any kind of wearables, even creative ones like ours. (Although, we like to argue Pals are almost like foot puppets so they would still be a good fit!) Hehe. Or they tried just one line of socks before and have decided all socks will not work with them. But. Happily, did you know we now sell to over 400 independent stores, many of them open minded and creative toy stores??? VICTORY!

That is why every single toy store we work with, we are truly grateful for their support. We want to help give them visibility, to send love, and most importantly let people nearby know to stop in this holiday!

So!

Please meet one local toy store we chose to spotlight today: Sparky’s Toys and Gifts in Asheville, North Carolina!
Our marketing intern Caroline interviewed Ben Brown, Sparky’s fearless manager.

Caroline:  What was the first job you can remember you wanted and how did that translate to the business you’re in now?

Ben:  When I was in the second grade I decided that when I grew up I was going to become a soldier! That definitely did not end up happening. I graduated from UNC Asheville in May 2018 with a degree in Ethics and Social Institutions, so naturally I am now helping to operate an independent toy store. We’re a jack-of-all-trades kind of a store.

Caroline: What kinds of products do you sell?

Ben: Sparky’s maintains a diverse selection of toys. We have one-of-a-kind plushies made by local artists, quick gifts for families on their way to parties, inexpensive options for kids need a place to spend their well-earned allowance, and other quality board games, puzzles, books, STEM kits, and creativity-based toys. Our customers often remark that the store is totally different every time they stop in!

Caroline: What is the vision you set forth for your store?

Ben: We hope for Sparky’s to become an institution among the families in our surrounding area. Sparky’s is located in West Asheville, which is a hip area with lots of young families, so we aim to become the go-to destination for toy-shopping. Being a small, independent store, we’re best equipped for accommodating the dynamic demands of customers who are tired of the drab selection of big-box stores.

 

 

 

Caroline: What has been your favorite experience in business so far?

Ben: My favorite aspect of the job is, without a doubt, building relationships with customers. Besides helping parents, grandparents, and children find a great gift, I often find myself lost in conversation with customers on every topic imaginable. That’s one way local business is truly magical – it offers a venue for engagement between people whose paths would not otherwise cross.

 

 

Caroline: What is the most fun part?

Ben: Dogs and babies are the most fun part! We’re a dog-friendly store, so anytime a new pup walks into Sparky’s I ask the dog’s owners for permission to share a picture of their four-legged friend on our social media

Caroline: Your favorite quote?

Ben: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself,”  – John Dewey, father of American education and all-around great philosopher.

Caroline: Who is your spirit animal?

Ben: More than one person has described me as a dolphin oddly enough, so let’s go with that.

Caroline: Which pair of Pals Socks is your favorite and why?

Ben: My favorite Pals pair is Hedgehog and Snail because they’re so darn cute!

Caroline: What made you want to carry Pals Socks in your store?

Ben: Sparky’s sells Pals Socks because we love their mission! Introducing ideas such as diversity, plurality, and the celebration of difference in a fun way at young ages is crucial to developing empathetic and inclusive future citizens.

Caroline: If you had any advice to give to the future generation what would it be?

Ben: Never forget that your voice matters! Identifying injustice is the first step. The next is using your place at the table to work with others to solve bigger problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caroline: Why should you support local?

Ben: Supporting local is crucial as local business is the nexus of sustainable and fair economic growth. With successful local businesses come healthy, competitive markets, redistribution of economic resources into the local community, ethical employment, and community building.

~

So there you have it folks. Support local, especially your local toy store! Good vibes, good people, good community! 🙂

 

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"Your kid will love these!

Our son loves mixing up different animals, he also plays with and sings about these socks...there are no other socks, or clothes for that matter that he will sing about. All Pals are very sturdy and bright. They add much needed creativity and joy to the difficult socks and shoes process for our family." - Leigh M.

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