For 20 years, Boing! Toy Shop has been bringing joy to children across JP and beyond with its wide selection of unique toys, games, and gifts. Kim Mitchell, who took over the store in 2011, has lived in the neighborhood for years and said she wanted to “continue a neighborhood treasure and keep it going.”
This year, store received Sustainable Business Network of Massachusett’s Sustainable Business of the Year award.
Mitchell told the Gazette that “while I definitely do have some toys that fit the green and sustainable criteria, that is not the only lens I offer for my store.”
She said that she tries to support sustainable companies where she can, but that’s not always possible in the toy industry.
She said she believes she received the award largely because she lives so close to the store and has so many ties to the community. “I do a lot with giving back and charitable donations,” she said, as well as “hires staff that look like our neighborhood” and offers them a fair wage.
“In our neighborhood, there’s a lot of Spanish speaking customers,” Mitchell said. “I try to make sure I have a Spanish-speaking staff member at all times to try to meet the customers where they are.”
Boing! is known for having toys with higher play value and “can last a little bit longer as opposed to a one and done,” she said.
She said she goes to toy shows to learn about trends in children’s toys and get an idea of what she wants to carry.
“Since we are a smaller store, I’m actually on the floor and listening to customers,” she said, and will sometimes base her orders off of what she hears customers looking for.
“We really are interacting with our customers in a very intimate way and we’re listening,” she said.
She also said a small local toy store differs from a big box store because of the customers service that can be provided in such an environment. Mitchell said her staff is well trained on the selection of items and can help customers find similar items if something specific they want is not carried.
She said that while the supply chain issue that is plaguing many industries because of the pandemic has affected the toy industry as well, she has plenty of toys on her shelves this holiday season. She said she’s been “hoarding toys” and “bringing in stuff much earlier than I normally would.”
This year, she said popular toys are bubble pop fidgets, as well as LEGO sets. She doesn’t offer much in the way of licensed products, where she said trends are often driven from. “I’m not really competing in that space,” she said. “I sell things in like quantities of twelves and twenty-fours, not hundreds.”
She said another popular item this year has been a game called Throw Throw Burrito, which she described as a “card game where part of it requires you to throw a foam burrito at the person you’re playing with.” She said this game has been a “surprise hit.”
Additionally, as the winter drags on, people are looking for activities to do as a family on a cold night, so puzzles are a popular choice, as are family games, Mitchell said.
This time of year, “we’re usually pretty busy,” Mitchell said. Boing! is also a participant in JP Centre/South Main Streets’ holiday delivery program, where people can have their purchases delivered directly to their door.
Mitchell encouraged everyone to support local businesses. “I certainly feel very thankful for all of my awesome customers who have supported me through the pandemic,” she said.
For more information about Boing! Toy Shop, visit boingtoys.com.