A tour of the lovely toy, book and gift store *play in Logan Square, Chicago
I first heard about *play from Wendy and Chris, our friends who relocated from Grand Rapids to Chicago a few years ago. They moved into the Logan Square area and fell in love with *play. Added bonus, it was just a few blocks away from their new house.
Wendy suggested I call Ann, the owner of *play to see if she'd be interested in carrying our cards in her shop. Ann was very interested! We shipped the decks out right away.
It wasn't until recently that I was able to visit Chicago, and knew that I should go and see Ann at her amazing toy shop! I grabbed Rhiannon, rented a car, and hit the road.
When you enter *play, it's bright, warm, cheery and full of lovely things for children. Outdoor play things, puppets, dress up things, puzzles, books and so many more wonderful treasures.
Ann and her staff not only understand kids, but the understand what kids are interested in.
We had a chance to talk with Ann about her shop!
SO Awesome: Hi Ann! We’re so happy to speak with you today. Please tell us about *play Logan Square and yourself.
Ann: I have been in the toy industry for almost 20 years. About 5 1/2 years ago I was getting burnt out from traveling for my consulting business and thought creating *play would be a great way to have a “home base”.
We opened in September of 2010 to crowds! (no joke!) and have been happily selling fun in Logan Square ever since. We were excited to get some great publicity in the first year … including winning Best of Chicago from Chicago Magazine.
Between the great PR, the neighborhood support, and a fantastic Farmer’s Market outside our door on Sundays…we’ve made a go of this little store!
SO Awesome: Tell us about your team.
Ann: We have such a great team assembled. Three of them have their masters degrees…they have been nannies and child care workers…and they’re all really passionate about the store and the neighborhood. I feel so lucky to have them!
(Marie-Claire notes that the desk staff was pleasant and amazing, and gift-wrapped the gifts I bought Owen and Silas in less than a minute!)
SO Awesome: What qualities in play things (and children’s products) do you look for when stocking your shop?
Ann: It of course always has to be safe and age appropriate for the child. I believe most toys have an intrinsic educational element to them so I also want to make sure that they’re fun and child-directed. I also like things that have some quirk to them…or a little bit of funk.
You can find the boring stuff at the mass market. We’re going to have some things you can’t find everywhere.
SO Awesome: What makes for a perfect day in your shop?
Ann: I love when you can sense the community that the store has brought together. Families meeting up and chatting… parents running into each other and catching up. I love when it’s hopping with excitement at the product. But mostly, I love when a child walks through the door and says “wow.” Now THAT is a great day!
SO Awesome: Are there any upcoming events at your shop? Or big sales that parents in the Chicago area should know about?
Ann: We turned 5 this month so we had events throughout September. November 14th is Neighborhood Toy Store Day which we proudly celebrate! Once that is done we start to move into the holiday season and our events taper down for a bit.
SO Awesome: Neighborhood Toy Store Day sounds great! We'd love to come by then again ourselves.
Thank you again for taking the time to talk with us Ann!
Okay readers! If you live in the Chicago area, be sure to stop in this charming toy shop yourself: 3109 W Logan Blvd Chicago, IL 60647
*play is open on Monday - Saturday from 10am to 6pm. And Sunday from 10am to 4pm or by appointment.
Oh! and Ann and her staff do party planning, party favors, and FREE delivery within five miles of the shop too!
If you're not in Chicago, no worries! Ann and her staff will pull a fabulous present bundle together for that special child in your life! Wrap it and and ship it too! Amazing right?
P.S. Thank you, sweet Wendy, for introducing us to Ann at *play! We're so happy to know her, her staff and her shop.
P.P.S. Thank you to Rhiannon McCalmont for taking these amazing shots of *play during our trip to Chicago.