This year, the holidays especially call for a unique toy for the beloved child in your life. Ditch online shopping big box stores this year and support our Portland mom and pop shops. Local business owners know what families really need and they need your support more now than ever. Find that extra-special holiday gift for that extra-special someone in your life, at one of these cool, local shops. We’ve rounded up the best places to buy toys in town. Read on to find out more!

Note: Please check each location for hours and COVID-Safety requirements. All information is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication.

Finnegans Toys & Gifts

If you grew up in Portland, you may have gotten your own Lego set here—the store has been around since 1977! It has stood the test of time and still bursts at the seams with puzzles, plushies, music instruments, play sets, books, and more. You might get lost in the rows of fun things to do, but the whole family will be so busy playing with things no one will even notice. It’s truly a place that’s best to take your time exploring. Bonus: they validate downtown parking for purchases over $20!

Bonus: Pickup orders are available!

820 SW Washington St.
Portland, OR
503-221-0306
Online: finneganstoys.com

Kids at Heart

A long-standing part of Hawthorne street, Kids at Heart delivers with excellent selection of stuffed animals, play sets, books, trains, and more. Their eye toward quality extends to bigger brands like Lego and Playmobil and to smaller ones like German HABA wooden toys. The selection of sticker books is a winning destination, as is the cozy book room in back. From toddlers to almost-teens, this store has got you covered. Be sure to come back regularly for their Loyalty Club (hint: it’s the perfect way to get birthday party gifts!).

Bonus: You can buy toys from this shop online!

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3445 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR
503-231-2954
Online: kidsathearttoys.com

Made You Look

Made You Look has a year-long history of charming all their visitors. Offering a bi-weekly story and craft time, a crawl-through tunnel, a teepee, and a firm policy of playing with things in the store, the store attracts young to old. Toys range from yarn rattles for babies to a build-your-own speaker kit for ages 8+, and even classics like a Koosh ball and googly-eye glasses. Everything is chosen with an impeccable eye toward quality, craftsmanship and of course. fun. Oh, and don’t forget quarters for the airplane ride, blasting off with an awesome rendition of “Danger Zone!”

Bonus: They offer local delivery!

Mon., Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

2418 East Burnside St.
Portland, OR
503-719-7906
Online: madeyoulookpdx.com

Black Wago

Located on Mississippi, Black Wagon is a small store with some big options. Your little one can grill up some burgers on the play kitchen in the back while you browse their selection of Winter Water Factory pajamas and Vans shoes. Or, try out the tiny catapult after picking out your favorite silly book (our pick is the A-Z of Monsters or an issue of the beautiful Illustoria Magazine). If you can’t make it all the way into the store, check out their online shop!

Bonus: Shipping is available. Move fast. Last day to shop for Christmas is Dec. 15.

3964 N Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR
503-916-0000
Online: blackwagon.com

Hello! Good Morning!

This small store is completely chock full of fun and whimsy. You might notice the giant paper-mache whale hanging from the ceiling: the fun flows down from him fins and inspires every corner of this colorful store. Owned and curated by a former animator at Laika, Hello urges customers to Please Touch Everything. Whether it’s playing with finger puppets, finding the perfect shade of washi tape, picking from the colorfully curated books, or building your own pinhole camera, you can’t help but smile in here.

Note: Shopping by appointment for your safety!

Portland, OR
503-841-5120
Online: hellogoodmorningkids.com

Spielwerk

Spielwerk was founded on the idea that playing is the “werk” of childhood, and kids need the best tools for the job. Many of their toys are sourced from Europe for the highest quality materials (though they also carry high-quality US-made toys as well), like the wooden Haba toys, and Grimm’s Spiel and Holz. You’ll find a large play area up front, complete with kitchen to try out your choice of puzzles, musical instruments, games, blocks, and more. Imaginations rejoice!

Bonus: Curbside pickup available. Please note no walkins. Schedule your shop-safe session.

3808 N Williams Ave #121
Portland, OR
503-282-2233
Online: spielwerktoys.com

Grasshopper

A favorite on Alberta Street, this store is always ready to inspire with the perfect gift (they do gift-wrapping, too!) It’s neatly separated into attractive sections so you can easily find what you’re looking for. Baby items are up front, puzzles and games are to the right, the cozy book section is straight back, and the fun is all around! From wooden kites to princess puzzles, a foundational chemistry kit to a mushroom rattle, it’s a cinch to find the perfect thing for the perfect kid here. And if you’re stuck deciding--ask. They know what they’re doing.

Bonus: Local delivery available.

1816 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR
503-335-3131
Online: grasshopperstore.com

The Yo! Store

This store is an enigma. Can it be called a kids store with really cool women’s things, or a women’s store with just enough interesting thing for kids? You’ll have to be the judge, but either way, it’s a great destination for baby showers, wedding showers, kid and adult birthday parties, or any excuse to get out. You’ll find kids books, stylish nursery lights, bibs and bonnet, toys from the visually pleasing Kid O brand, and even tiny jean jackets with hip patches. Older kids might appreciate the temporary tattoos and cat ear hair clips, and the oldest visitors might come away with a cactus in a sweet ceramic pot or some new hoop earrings.

Bonus: non-contact store pickup, Portland delivery and domestic shipping also available!

935 NW 19th Ave
Portland, OR
Online: yoportland.com

—Annette Benedetti

featured image: 5712496 via Pixabay

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