It was a toy store in Jerome that first grabbed Brad James’ imagination. And for the past 13 years, he has dreamed about opening his own toy store, working as a web designer to save money for the investment.
His fiancé, Alice Ross, not only fully supported his dream, but told him the toy store would need a tree in the middle. On vacations, the two would visit other toy stores to get ideas.
Today, the dream has been manifested, including the tree. And there are plenty of toys – with more than a thousand different kinds, including bouncing balls, bows and arrows, puzzles, wooden trains and stuffed animals. As an added attraction, James gives impromptu juggling lessons.
Ross brings her own expertise as a kindergarten teacher at Skyview Elementary School. “Working in the classroom, I know what’s magical to the kids, so I know what they want,” she said.
The couple has been together eight years and a September wedding is planned. He grew up in Prescott. She was raised in Jerome. They also have a love affair with the community, as family, friends and community members have been following their long-awaited goal of the toy store.
“It turned out great because opening the store was a collaborative effort,” James said.
The joyous response from the community was palpable on June 15, the day the store opened. Many locals came in, not just to shop, but also to hug the new owners and join in the celebration.
“The locals are 100% behind us, and we are also getting people from out of town. On opening day, we had people from Phoenix and the retired community wants to bring their grandchildren here,” said Ross. “Our first day was off the charts. We have beautiful friends and community support.”
One of the goals is to bring more creativity to all ages, especially to youngsters. “I want to bring back old-fashioned play so children can create art or whatever they want,” said James. “Technology seems to do the opposite.” QCBN
By Stan Bindell, QCBN
Toyful is located at 205 N. Cortez. For more information, the owners can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo by Stan Bindell: Toyful owners Brad James and Alice Ross hold toys by the big tree in the middle of the store.