Our NYC Shopping Local Gift Guide is chock-full of great places to find cool kids' items, from seasonal pop-up shops to holiday markets to year-round family favorites. But in addition to hitting your usual go-to shops, why not try something new?
We've found seven new toy stores that opened in Manhattan and Brooklyn over the past year, many specializing in handcrafted, eco-friendly playthings that you won't find in the big chains. Bonus: Some of these shops also offer classes, sing-alongs and special events for kids, so you may find yourself hitting these spots long after the holidays are over.
HomBom Toys – Tribeca
Unfortunately this store closed in May 2015.
The downtown outpost of this family-owned mini-chain (the original location is on the Upper East Side) opened this past April. You'll find all of the tried-and-true brands here, including Lego, Playmobil, Creativity for Kids, Melissa & Doug, Ravensburger puzzles and Crayola art sets.
Boomerang Toys – Battery Park City
1 North End Avenue near Vesey Street
The family-owned mini-chain just opened its third location in October in the New York Mercantile Exchange Building. Boomerang specializes in toys that are fun but educational, like stuffed animals, dolls, craft supplies, trikes, scooters and more from Brio, Lego, Leapfrog Learning Systems, Kettler and Slinky.
J&R Jr. – Financial District
Unfortunately this store closed in April 2013
And another new downtown toy store, which we raved about when it opened back in February. This enormous baby gear, clothing and toy emporium is housed on the second floor of music and tech Mecca J&R. The focus here is on baby and little-kid needs, so in addition to cribs, strollers and bottles, you'll find toys by well-known brands like Melissa & Doug, Kettler tricycles, etc. The electronics section features cool finds like the Fuhu Nabi 2 tablet (top of my son's gift list), the Fisher-Price kid camera and two-way radios. The spot also offers little-kid classes hosted by MoonSoup, Creative Kitchen and Preschool of Rock, plus special events like FREE movie and pizza nights every Saturday.
Norman & Jules – Park Slope
158 Seventh Avenue near Garfield Place
Sleek and eco-friendly to the max, Norman & Jules was opened by a local couple this past September. Bright and packed with gorgeous wares, the store focuses on handcrafted toys made of sustainable materials by artisans and Fair Trade Federation companies. In other words, you don't have to feel guilty when you shop here.
Little Things Toy Store Too – Park Slope
139 Seventh Avenue between Garfield and Carroll Street
The original Little Things Toy Store, stocked to the rafters with toys and art supplies, was famously cramped and difficult to navigate. So when a storefront became vacant a few doors down, Little Things opened a second branch this past August. The focus here is on toys and gear for school-age kids such as craft, science and construction kits, a huge Lego section and seasonal items.
Play Kids – Prospect Lefferts Gardens
676 Flatbush Avenue between Hawthorne and Winthrop Streets
With Rock-ucation and jitterbug classes, and drop-in sing- and drum-along sessions, this store (which opened at the very end of 2011) isn't just a place to shop. That said, there's certainly plenty to buy, including lots of Brooklyn-made gear such as baby carriers, blankets and buntings, plus a slew of toys by the likes of Automoblox, Playmobil, Erector and Faber-Castell that don't require batteries, meaning they're all non-toxic, BPA, PVC and Phthalate free.
Pipsqueak Children's Shoppe – Bedford-Stuyvesant
1124 Bedford Avenue between Quincy Street and Gates Avenue Unit #2
Offering eco-friendly gear, clothes and toys for kids up to age six, this expansive new store, which opened in August, also hosts childbirth and infant workshops, and prenatal yoga classes. From board book classics such as Goodnight Moon to squishy Jellycat stuffed animals to Beatrix backpacks and lunchboxes, Pipsqueak is primed to meet the neighborhood's baby and child needs.
Find other great NYC stores in our Shopping Local Gift Guide and lots of other seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.