A beloved Winnipeg toy store has entered middle age, and Winnipeggers were invited Saturday to come help it celebrate.
Toad Hall Toys on Arthur Street has turned 40, and the store toasted the anniversary with (what else?) toys such as raining toads, a magic show, games for kids and, of course — cake.
Owner Kari England, who has worked at the store for 28 years and took over ownership from parents Ray and Ann England, said she's thrilled to have had the chance to carry on their vision of what a toy store should be.
Part of what her parents wanted to achieve was to provide alternatives for parents and caregivers from the mass-market stores.
When Toad Hall first opened, the choices in Winnipeg were limited: people shopped for toys at major department stores like Eaton's, The Bay and Sears.
Today, England says there's broader choices, but the majority are "TV-driven, highly-licenced or advertised."
"People have no idea how many thousands and thousands of things are out there that are not riding on a TV show or a movie, they don't necessarily have to have batteries -- they just require imagination and creativity," she said.
She said there's been wonderful moments at the store over the years, including seeing children become parents who introduce their kids to it.
She remembers parents once bringing in a graduation photo of their child, and being told, "'This is a Toad Hall child – we found you two weeks after he was born,'" England said.
"It just warms my heart because we've made an impact on their life."