In the age of robotic vacuum cleaners and refrigerators that talk back to you, it’s nice to know that kids can still have fun without the latest gizmo that beeps, buzzes and lights up. It’s true! If you’re still looking for that perfect gift, scroll down for nine indie toys stores that offer all kinds of low-tech fun that will inspire your kids to actually use their imagination without the aide of an electronic screen.
Top Ten Toys
There’s a lot that Greenwood’s Top Ten Toys doesn’t sell: video games, Barbies, Bratz, toy swords and toy guns. If that sounds like music to your ears, this over-sized kid store is your toy haven. The shop boasts of having the largest selection of toys that foster creativity, are kind to the environment, educational, multicultural, gender neutral and less violent than any other shop in Seattle. With a range from the simple top or hula hoop to high-tech science kits, you’ll find arts and crafts, musical instruments, books, stuffed animals, wooden trains and, of course, LEGOs around every corner!
120 N. 85th St.
Seattle, Wa 98103
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
While Clover Toys is celebrating its new ownership, the philosophy that "children should enjoy being children” has stayed the same. Self-described as "Seattle’s Most Charming Toy Store," this Ballard shop is a favorite of little and big kids alike. Creaky wood floors and big front windows surround a slew of giftable toys, games and costumes. Clover also boasts a table of pint-sized instruments and a large selection of natural items, including colorful stacking shapes from Wooden Wagon.
5333 Ballard Ave. N.W.
Seattle, Wa 98107
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Nestled on Main Street in Old Bellevue’s independent retail core, Wee Tots is stocked with handpicked toys, stuffed animals, play kitchens and furniture, plus rocking horses and more. You’ll also find a huge selection of décor as well as bath and meal accessories suitable for babies and young children.
Good to Know: Bring in your Christmas stocking to receive 20% off! (See website for details.)
10245 Main St., Ste 103
Bellevue, Wa 98004
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Wishes is your best bet for finding gifts for the whole family as they carry a wide selection of books, games and toys for plenty of unplug and play fun. In addition to finding the latest New York Times bestseller for you, you’ll find a bunch of educational books for them. Card games from the simple "Go Fish” variety to the more complex are here too, as well as clever toys for all ages from infants on up including special needs children-oriented toys. Wishes also carries the latest in board games as well as the good ol' classics (Connect 4, anyone?).
3000 184th St. S.W.
Lynnwood, Wa 98
1402 S.E. Everett Mall Way, Ste. 335
Everett, Wa 98203
1 Bellis Fair Pkwy., #372
Bellingham, Wa 98266
Hours: Varies with each location. Check the mall hours.
Blue Highway Games
If it’s a game, Blue Highway has it. Located on Queen Anne, this shop carries all kinds of games that are appropriate for families and kids. From thought-provoking strategy games to the silly, and from classics like Boggle and Bananagrams to new ones like A Fistful of Penguins and Click Clack Lumberjack, you’ll find them here. Psst...you'll also find lots of vintage and card games, too.
2203 Queen Anne Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat., 9:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
BobaKhan Toys & Collectibles
Pronounced “Bo-ba-kaan,” this Everett store is named after Boba Fett from Star Wars and the evil Khan from Star Trek. While most kids won’t truly understand why they love this store so much, bigger kids (and parents!) definitely will. Expect to find a selection of new toys, action figures and pop culture icons in addition to vintage antique toys. So, while some may come in looking for toys to play with; others will be looking for obscure characters to collect. Psst...don’t be surprised if your kids end up dragging you out of the store to go home!
500 S.E. Everett Mall Way, Ste. A 1
Everett, Wa 98208
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Popular in different parts of the country, the only Lakeshore store available in Washington state is located in Bellevue. Since 1954, Lakeshore’s goal has been the same: providing innovative education products "that spark young imaginations, instill a sense of wonder and foster a lifelong love of learning.” Their toys and games are designed for children as young as infants all the way up to 6th grade.
Good to Know: If you prefer to shop online, shipping is always free to their Bellevue location. Just browse the website, call them at the Bellevue store and if they don’t have it in stock, just place an order—your gear will arrive with their weekly in-store delivery.
11027 N.E. 4th St.
Bellevue, Wa 98004
Once you visit Curious Kidstuff with your little guys, they’ll be begging you to visit again and again. This is because they actually encourage kids to play with their toys (at the many display tables) while shopping. In fact, they even offer a special party room for birthdays. All toys, books, music, art supplies and other fun stuff are non-violent and geared towards infants to those 12 years of age. You’ll find "green” toys as well as some toys that are still made out of wood and still just as much fun as you remember.
Good to Know: Curious Kidstuff offers free gift wrapping, so you can cross that one off your list, too.
4740 California Ave. S.W.
Seattle Wa 98116
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
While you can shop Archie McPhee online, why would you want to? You’ll want to see the odd and strange finds up close and in person. Where else are you going to find the Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure, a Punching Nun puppet or The Crazy Cat Lady Game? Since 1983, Archie McPhee has proudly sold some of the weirdest stuff out there, and while younger kids may not "get it” you can be assured that your older kids will.
1300 N. 45th St.
Seattle, Wa 98103
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Did we miss your favorite store for shopping for unplugged toys? Let us know in the comments below.
— Jeffrey Totey & Sara Billups