WINCHESTER — Local toy shops have a little bit of something for everyone this holiday season.

Whether you’re looking for educational toys and games, outdoor equipment, something to fidget with, vintage toys, collectibles or the classics, local toy shops have you covered.

Thinker Toys, located at 106 S. Loudoun St. on the Loudoun Street Mall, specializes in educational toys, games, puzzles, outdoor toys, puppets, science kits, and much more, all with emphasis on creativity and imagination.

This holiday season, shape-shifting boxes called Shashibo might be the most popular toy in stock at Thinker Toys. Owner Aaron Bowman says the toys are cubes full of magnets that make different shapes.

UGears, which are mechanical models, are also quite popular.

Down the mall at Time Traveler Toys & Collections at 115 S. Loudoun St., vintage and new toys, comics, posters/prints, sci-fi and horror, superheroes and more are flying off the shelves.

According to the shop’s Facebook page, Funko Pop! collectibles are a hot item these days, along with WWE, Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Batman, Pokemon and The Simpsons items.

Over at Play Favorites at 441 South St. in Front Royal, Nee Doh — “squishy, stretchy, fidgety things,” according to shop owner Michael Lock — are selling quite well. Additionally, holiday-themed Stikballs, metal Tonka trucks, hand puppets, Metal Earth models and collectible card games such as Magic The Gathering, My Hero Academia and Pokemon remain popular.

Drew VanLaeken, owner of Incredible Flying Objects at 111 N. Loudoun St. in Winchester, says fidget poppers and Nee Doh products have been popular this season.

“Anything that’s real textile, something they can squish, I’ve had a hard time keeping them in,” he said. “(Children) like to squish things, stretch things, pop things — anything they can fidget with.”

Bowman and VanLaeken said adults also buy “squishy” things for themselves to keep at their desks.

With supply chain issues this holiday season, local shop owners suggest shopping at their stores and cutting out the hassle of worrying if the gift you ordered online will arrive in time.

“Everyone knows about the shipping and production issues, so even though we’re having trouble getting some things, we still have a store full of toys,” Bowman said. “I think people may be a little more hesitant to order stuff now, because they don’t know when they’re going to get it. That’s where going into a store helps — you walk out with it.”

On top of that, it’s always nice to see smiling and familiar faces, VanLaeken said.

“The biggest thing for me is feeling connected to my community. I really do enjoy when the kids come in and see something that they’ve heard about and they get excited about it,” he said. “Seeing those same kids grow up over the years, I have people coming in who are 20 years old who have been coming here since they were little kids.”

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com

(1) comment

Catherine Giovannoni

Oh, I do miss the days when my son, and then my grandson, were young enough to make a trip to the toy store a magical excursion! As to supply chain issues, Newsweek recently reported that, "Speaking to MSNBC on Monday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion praised the Biden administration's actions and noted that they are having a noticeable impact. He singled out the deal brokered to keep major ports open 24 hours a day as helping move containers of cargo at a quicker rate.

"The combination of private enterprise and government working together has been really successful," McMillon said. "We've had a lot of participation, been able to participate in solving some of these congestion issues, so I would like to give the administration credit for helping do things like get the ports open 24 hours a day, to open up some of the trucking lines...and then all the way through the supply chain there's been a lot of innovation.""

Hopefully, children in the Shenandoah Valley and elsewhere will find just what they want under their holiday trees!

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