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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Area toy stores create personalized shopping experience for holiday season

Figpickels Toy Emporium in Coeur d’Alene is creating a sense of wonder for customers of all ages.

The family-owned store at 210 E. Sherman Ave. Suite 103 is home to hands-on displays, shelves of unique puzzles, action figures and plush toys as well as a working German carousel, creating a shopping experience that’s difficult to replicate in an online or big-box store.

“We definitely have an emphasis on unplugged play,” said Devin Sommer, whose family owns the store. “That’s something a lot of people appreciate. We hear often from customers, ‘We don’t want the stuff everyone gets at Walmart and Target.’ ”

Figpickels has a diverse mix of products, some of which include the popular Jellycat stuffed animals and Creepy Critters by Odyssey Toys, a line of remote controlled, interactive toys, including a slithering snake and mouse, Sommer said.

To prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping season, Figpickels has been stocking up on inventory throughout the year and began decorating its store the week after Halloween, Sommer said.

“We’ll have plenty of products,” Sommer said. “We have off-site and on-site storage that’s full and ready to deploy as needed.”

More than 166 million people nationwide are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

It’s an increase of more than 8 million people compared to last year and is the largest estimate since the National Retail Federation began tracking data in 2017.

“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, said in a statement.

The NRF indicates top-selling toys this year will be Legos, Hot Wheels, dolls, Squishmallows, video games, dinosaurs and Disney-related items.

The General Store expects sales to be brisk at its children’s toy wonderland at 2424 N. Division St. in Spokane, co-owner Tom Barany said.

The General Store added its toy section after longtime toy mecca White Elephant closed in 2020. Since then, it has expanded to more than 4,000 square feet on the store’s top floor.

The General Store differs from big-box and large online retailers because of its ability to be nimble and responsive with current toy-store trends, Barany said.

Big-box stores may be locked into partnerships with distributors, making it more difficult to branch out product lines, he added.

“For toys, we probably have 300 vendors that we can go through and 15 different distributors,” Barany said. “If there’s something hot and trending, we can get it within a week.”

Legos, Pokémon, Shashibo puzzle boxes, model kits, board games, action figures and Magic the Gathering trading card games are anticipated to be top sellers, Barany said.

In addition, Super Impulse’s World Smallest Toys collection seem to be a hit among customers, he said.

The World’s Smallest Toys collection features retro brands in miniature, working versions, including Rubik’s Cube, Lite-Brite, Etch a Sketch and an Atari console that comes with a joystick controller and vintage-style TV.

“We have a huge selection of the World’s Smallest Toys,” Barany said.

At novelty store Boo Radley’s at 232 N. Howard St. in downtown Spokane, customers can expect to find one-of-a-kind gifts and personalized service, owner Jen Menzer said.

“We’re a smaller store,” Menzer said. “We greet every single person that comes in. We check in and say, ‘We’re here to help if you need gift ideas.’ We can generally find something off the beaten path for that person.”

Boo Radley’s selection of wacky socks and pop culture candles are always top sellers for people of all ages during the holiday season.

“We try to have some things in the store if we see it at other places popping up,” Menzer said. “And we try to get things people can’t find anywhere else.”

Squishables, a line of plush toys that includes dragons, unicorns, bumblebees, sea turtles and more, are highly requested among customers, Menzer said.

“Everyone is looking for comfort these days, which is what I’ve noticed – whether it’s a nice pair of socks or a cool plush toy,” she said.

Menzer, like Barany and Sommer, hopes for a bustling holiday shopping season. “I think it’s going to be busy all over,” she said. “Everyone is getting out, and it sounds like there’s a bunch of really great events downtown.”Amy Edelen can be reached at (509) 459-5581 or at