If one were to conjure up a sweet, snuggly shop that offered childhood memories in the making by way of delightful playthings, one would be hard-pressed to come up with a better place than .
For nearly 20 years, this Maplewood Avenue treasure of a toy shop has been captivating kids of all ages with their old-school approach to toys, collectibles and all the treasures that make being a kid so fun.
The shop is by no means big, but positively brims with a vast variety of items suited for just about any kid or occasion to gift them with the perfect present. Well-run and laid out for reliability when it comes to interests and sections, Maplewood's munchkin-sized set knows exactly where to head when they enter the door of this Village institution:
Lego room? Back room, right. Science? Back left. Charming charms to bedazzle and affirm BFF's? Just beyond the register. Pint-sized present toppers and great gag gifts (yes, that includes Whoopee cushions…) immediately to your left when you walk in. Dragons and other mystical figurines? Turn right as you enter, towards the front…
When owner and his wife Joan opened all those years ago, they wanted to deliver the goods—and the good goods at that. "We wanted to offer quality items and quality service," says Scrivener, in an accent that's Essex County by way of Essex, England. "We've always been interested in items that are educational, fun and engage children, and we pride ourselves in offering service and assistance without pressure."
The shop, in many ways, has also grown up with the town, as have the Scrivener children who were 5, 7 and 9 years of age when it opened. "I'll have kids who started coming in as toddlers who are now in college who still come in to say 'hello' when they're back from school," says Scrivener, who really enjoys his store's status as a wholesome Maplewood mainstay. "We're thought of as a 'safe haven' for kids, I like that we're the sort of shop that parents can say, 'I'll meet you at Scrivener's.' It's great to be that place."
The store also values customer feedback. Sales associate Doris Bird-Palumbo is quick to hold up a list kept by the register of order request and suggestions. "We're happy to order anything we don't carry," she explains. "Although I have to say I am always amazed by how much stuff we can fit into our store. We really have a great selection of items here."
You won't, however, find electronics or video games. "We gravitate towards items that really help children connect with their brains and potential," explained Scrivener. "We strive to offer things that will captivate and keep minds active in a positive, interactive way." Scrivener finds more traditional, less high-tech, approaches deliver better results, which is why the store carries so many tried and true classics.
"Parents love being able to come in here and find the toys from their childhood so they can share that same emotion- and goodness—with their kids," added Doris, who is quick to offer a ton of suggestions to a shopper looking for an ideal present for an upcoming birthday party.
In addition to great gifts, Scrivener's offers a ton of charm for such a petite square footage, something that is felt by anyone who walks into the shop. It is also something that Norman attributes to his wife, Joan, a who passed away eight years ago. "This was such a creative outlet for her," he says. "She really shaped the personality of the shop in such a wonderful way. I continue to feel that every time I walk in here."
Shopper Laura Booker agrees that this is, indeed, one rare place to shop. "I love that it's an old-fashioned toy store that really caters to creativity and imagination. People here are really wonderful, too. This is the sort of place that truly epitomizes what Maplewood's about," she said while scooping up some stocking stuffers—which, of course, Scrivener's will happily wrap for no charge—as always.
That the shop is palpably void of the holiday stress during the shopping season is also noteworthy. "This really is a joyful time of the year at Scrivener's," said manager Elyse Schulze. "People are really visibly kind to each other while they shop and very appreciative to have people wrap their gifts and provide actual answers to their questions. And, you know? When it comes to helping people find their presents, it's nice to help people make other people happy."
Talk about spreading seasonal cheer!
Big box stores can keep printing up toy sale circulars trying to lure folks in with hype. Maplewoodians know we've got the real McCoy right here at 178 Maplewood Avenue.
Scrivener's Toys & Collecibles: 178 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood, NJ 07040 | 973-762-5650