Toy Share Kids in Buckhead is a toy exchange boutique, as well as a place for mothers or fathers to bring their children to play while they socialize, read or check emails on the store’s tablets.
“The inspiration came from really needing a place for our kids to go and for us to visit on a whim without having to make a reservation and put too much energy into it,” said Erica McMillan, who co-owns the store with her husband Chris. “We wanted a place easy on mom and dad, so we searched high and low. We looked at music class, Gymboree and Legoland [Discovery Center]. … People typically sign up for one session and discontinue because it’s so taxing on parents.”
After feeling like nothing was worth the time and effort, the couple opened Toy Share Kids in August.
“We thought, ‘What if we came up with a program where we could swap toys?’” McMillan said. “Kids bring in toys they are no longer interested in and swap for toys they are interested in.”
She said the store slogan is, “Try it before you buy it.”
“Toys “R” Us and Target are overwhelming,” McMillan said. “You don’t know what your child likes. We want it to be like a little country club for kids. If somebody wants to come play, you have to be a member.”
So far, Toy Share Kids has 300 members, who pay a $50 annual fee, which includes a 10-pack pass, and a second child can be added for an additional $10.
The annual membership includes unlimited swaps in exchange for immediate store credit. Then, members can add a Stay and Play pack for $30 for five visits and $50 for 10 visits.
“We have two different target audiences. Mainly we have swapping moms who join and don’t buy a play pack because they have older kids in school and don’t have time come here,” she said.
She said mothers with children under 5 usually buy the play packs. Conner Keatley is a first time mother with a 1-year-old named Flin. Keatley has been a member for a couple of weeks, she said last week.
“It’s a great alternative if it’s cold outside or rainy. It’s just a great place to come and sit and relax, and let your kids do their thing,” Keatley said. “Any place there’s new toys that aren’t their toys is so exciting. … It’s kind of like being able to go to a friend’s house for a play date without having to coordinate that. It can be spur of the moment when you just need to get out of the house.”
She said she often talks with her friends while her son plays.
“Moms, especially during the week, use it as a retreat,” McMillan said.
She said after about a year, they hope to grow locations and eventually create a franchise.
A closer look:
o What: Toy Share Kids boutique
o When: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
o Where: 110 East Andrews Drive, Suite 203, Buckhead
o Information: (678) 223-3564 or http://toysharekids.com