BEST TOY STORE - 2008
These are the things that make a great toy store: first, restraint. Namely, the restraint required to opt out of the lucrative world of TV- and movie-themed toys—you know, the ones developed by marketing groups instead of people who actually care about child development. What happens when a toy store exercises this kind of restraint? The space that would otherwise have been property of Disney can be filled with toys that resist the dreadful homogeny of American popular culture. Next: taxonomy. No, it's not just for biologists. Toys are organized by age group here, sure, but there is also a wall dedicated solely to awesome dinosaur stuff for all ages. And another for awesome art stuff. Finally: location, location, location. Creative Kidstuff is actually a chain, but the original store in the Linden Hills neighborhood is part of a small village of way-better-than-average kid destinations, where one toy store is across the street from another (where everything is made of wood) and around the corner from a bookstore (where live animals roam free). So grab your wallet, pack up your tot, and head for the (Linden) hills—and leave the restraint to the toy stores.