BEST TOY STORE - 2004
Oh, how we wanted to hand this one to Creative Kidstuff and their tasteful arrangements of development-spurring mobiles and nostalgic wooden trains. Our homegrown big box's offerings might not be hand-carved and painted by a Bavarian handwerker, but the sheer breadth of its inventory speaks better to the infinite varieties of activity that children call play. Walk past the slew of Barbies, Batmen, and Bratz and you'll find a dress-up section that is so delightfully overstocked that it appears as if a certain fairy godmother/buyer just couldn't stop waving her wand. The art-supply aisle calls to any petit Matisse, boasting more varieties of construction paper, crayons, and paints than the master collage maker could have imagined. And while we particularly like the child-sized sporting goods, camping gear and gardening tools, what we love most about Target are all the non-toy items that children adore. Montessori kids understand that egg-slicers, sponges, eyedroppers, spray bottles, cheese graters, and Q-tips are the instruments of purposeful and engrossing work. The rest of the child universe just thinks they're a blast.