In 2010 Brad James experienced a transformative interaction with his young children at a toy store. This was the spark for what would one day become The Toyful Toy Shoppe. I had the delight of connecting with Alice and Brad James shortly after their store opened. Let me tell you, Toyful is nothing short of magical!
They say their vision behind Toyful is to build bridges, connections, and opportunities to play across generations through open-ended creativity. “It’s not just retail, it’s about the experience. We want you to walk out with a smile.”
The sky's the limit with what these folks are aiming to provide. “We want to build something special you cannot find in other places in Prescott.” They hope to connect with local artisans, leather workers, 3D printers, toymakers and other creators to provide fun, locally made products.
On the way are Toyful workshops and hands-on experiences for children and their families. They have already begun hosting free magic shows that are open to the community. They note how they can provide a “unique and magical experience to Prescott-area locals and visitors. We pride ourselves on supplying toys for all ages from around the world. We strive to unite generations and to inspire creativity, imaginative play, critical thinking, wonder and joy.”
During our talk Alice celebrated how “this town feels like a giant family; they recognize the beauty of what we are trying to build. A lot of creative minds have come together.” With tears in her eyes, Alice shared her heartfelt gratitude for all who have shown up to help make the dream a reality. “This would not be possible without our Prescott community.”
Toyful’s mission goes hand-in-hand with current early-childhood research, echoing the importance of fun and connection. The bottom line: play is for everyone! Harvard University highlights three important factors that can support our growing community’s need to help children and their families flourish: Supporting responsive relationships, strengthening core life skills, and reducing sources of stress. Playing together supports all these!
In her book Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting, Laura Huerta Migus writes, “When we play, we are at our happiest and we can withstand incredible hardships … play makes us feel better. It is a strategy for resilience.”
As a fellow parent and community member, I’m thrilled about this new local business, run by amazing educators, parents and dreamers. They are taking a different approach, reimagining what a toy store can be in relation to its community, and I can’t wait to visit with my own kiddos!
Toyful opened on June 15 at 205 N. Cortez St. For store hours and more info, visit Toyful.shop.