When a Whitefish Bay kid made a habit of going to the new store every day, his mom told him he needed to limit it to one day a week. She wasn't expecting thinkToys! District Manager Jean Gama's reaction, which was to send a note of permission home with him.
"I told her I loved her son and he was welcome any time," Gama said.
He wasn't the only kid fitting in routine visits to the toy store on Silver Spring Drive after it opened in July.
Gama said she had high expectations for the Whitefish Bay store, and so far things have been "dead on," with word of the business quickly spreading around the North Shore and bringing a steady stream of new customers to add to the regular perusers.
"Children have been great ambassadors," Gama said. "The kids educate me too and tell me, 'According to the Lego website, this is coming out. Are you getting it?'"
With some kids coming every week and volunteering to help carry things into the store, Gama said she is surprised by the self-restraint they maintain, looking at the toys without turning the place into a playroom.
Gama said she and thinkTOYS! owner Michael Morelli share the kids' excitement for their toys.
"I remember Michael wanted to set up the wind up display, and I looked over two hours later and he was still playing with it," Gama said. "Maybe we are just a bunch of overgrown kids at heart."
Gama said she has been surprised by how much parents know about toys, too. They often bring her suggestions for new lines, such as the Kumon Books the store recently added after a parent recommended them. Since then Gama said she has refilled the rack three times.
"You can tell that the parents here are very invested and have been searching for the good toys out there," Gama said. "It just seems like a match made in heaven."
With an emphasis on educational and environmentally-friendly products, Gama said she thinks the store's selection of products is a good match for Whitefish Bay and the surrounding communities.
"People don't want to buy the crap that most of us were forced to buy in the past," Gama said. "We were doing the same homework looking for better toys as the parents here we're doing, and now we're in the same zip code."
ThinkTOYS! began as a store in Mayfair Mall and on Silver Spring Drive. With 1,400 square feet, the new store is twice the size of the Mayfair location.
Gama said Morelli is hoping to open another storefront in the spring, although they have not determined where.
"After this, there are high expectations for number three," Gama said. "The impetus will be as much on the next neighborhood as on ThinkTOYS!"
Gama said Whitefish Bay's Business Improvement District has been helpful in introducing thinkTOYS! to the neighborhood and organizing promotional events, which thinkTOYS! jumped right into.
"They worked with the neighbors right away, talking about hours and events," BID Director Karen Mathu said. "They bring a positive energy to the street and it's fun to see so many families and kids having another option for shopping ... and my kids love their store."