Top Ten Toys is about to play musical chairs in its building on North 85th Street and 1st Avenue NW. Starting on Monday, April 15, and lasting through Thursday, April 18, the independent toy store will close as it moves downstairs while the upstairs of the entire building is renovated.
Top Ten Toys’ current spot.
Since Blockbuster moved out of the building’s upstairs a few months ago, Bartell Drugs and Top Ten Toys are renovating and swapping spaces. Bartell Drugs will move into Top Ten Toys’ current space plus Blockbuster’s space, and Top Ten Toys will eventually move into Bartell’s current space (got that straight?)
The final move is expected to happen in late fall, possibly November, depending on construction. That will give Top Ten Toys an additional 2,000 square feet of space.
In the meantime, Top Ten Toys’ new space is directly underneath the current Bartell space, in Piper Village, facing The Sedges apartment building (below).
The plan is to open for business next Friday, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for moving updates.
After Blockbuster Video closes later this month, both Top Ten Toys and Bartell Drugs will be moving and expanding inside the current building.
Top Ten Toys is the yellow awning on the left.
Top Ten Toys will first move into the lower level of the building around the end of this month, while construction happens on the current Blockbuster space.
Then, sometime in the fall, the toy store will move back upstairs, into the space where Bartell Drugs is now on the east side of the building, plus another 2,000-square feet into the Blockbuster space. Bartell Drugs will move into the west end of the upstairs.
Chances are if you have a kid or know a kid, then you’ve been to Greenwood’s Top Ten Toys to buy toys, books, Legos, science kits, puppets or just to play with the cool train table.
Well, tomorrow Top Ten Toys celebrates its 25th anniversary with a carnival in its parking lot. That means games, face painting, balloon animals, yo-yo performers, a dunk tank, and a raffle every 15 minutes. The carnival is from 2-6 p.m. at 104 N. 85th St. and it’s all free.
Top Ten Toys started out across the street from its current location, in a little strip mall on North 85th Street. Current owner Allen Rickert’s sister, Adelia, a therapist who had studied developmental psychology, started the store after having her own child.
“She was way ahead of the curve,” Allen says. “She was interested in toys being less violent and more ecological.”
Allen helped his sister here and there, came on board full-time 13 years later, then bought the store from her.
More than just a toy store, Top Ten Toys is a mission for its owner and more than 30 employees. The store is full of wooden toys, Lego sets, puppets, art supplies, science kits and other hands-on toys that stimulate a child’s creativity. The store’s unofficial motto is “Keeping healthy play alive.”
“We thrive because there is an educated populace that asks for this type of selection,” Allen says.
The store will never sell candy, Barbies, or other dolls that have large amounts of makeup or hyper-sexualized images.
It just received a Golden Teddy Award from ParentMap readers for best toy store, and was named 2012 Retailer of the Year by the Western Toy & Hobby Retail Association.
Sales Associate Robert Persinger, Event Manager Storm Bennett, Owner Allen Rickert and Head Buyer Kathie Dockstader love their puppets.
The store carries toys from all over the world, as well as close to home. Allen and his staff try to balance buying local with supporting free trade/fair market companies around the globe.
And, yes, the employees play with the store’s toys and games to make sure they’re fun, sturdy, and safe. And so they can give kids first-hand knowledge if they have questions.
“We will discontinue something for the sheer factor of being lame,” Kristi Thomas, one of the store’s buyers, says with a laugh.
Top Ten Toy’s biggest sellers include rocks (minerals such as Hematite), marbles, wind-up toys, and Stomp Rocket Junior. Thomas says they sold 10,000 eight-cent marbles in the last year, and 4,800 rocks.
Top Ten Toys sold 10,000 eight-cent marbles last year. This is just part of their marble selection.
The store makes buying decisions in part on a product’s packaging. If it’s a cool toy, but has excessive packaging, they won’t buy it. That environmental sense extends to the store’s carpeting. When they replaced all 7,200 square feet of it eight years ago, they didn’t want to send it to a landfill, but couldn’t find a carpet recycler in the Northwest. So they shipped it to a recycler in the Midwest.
Now, Allen says, the carbon emissions from transporting it probably negated the environmental impact of throwing it in the trash, but he felt it was important to make a statement. He says the store received national attention for it.
“The only way to prime the pump, to make a statement, was to recycle it,” he says. “I was trying to raise consciousness about recycling.”
There are several buyers at the store, instead of just one. The employee who’s most into rocks does the buying for those, and the same goes for puzzles, games, etc.
Says Allen, “It’s much more of a cooperative effort.”
While Allen says Walmart is the largest toy store by volume in the United States, Top Ten Toys is now the largest toy store in Seattle, since Toys ‘R Us at Northgate closed in January. Allen says at one point he did a little reconnaissance work at the Mill Creek Walmart, wanting to see how many science kits and microscopes that store sold. The answer was zero.
“The Mom-and-Pops are trying to fill the gaps by providing more hands-on science toys,” he says, adding that many other independent toy stores have told him they also see selling science kits as part of their mission.
“The good thing about the independents is we can follow our passions,” he says. “We’re not tied to stockholders.”
Top Ten Toys is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Greenwood with a carnival in its parking lot on Friday, Aug. 17, starting at 2 p.m.
We’re going to have tons of great prizes and give-aways for every age, parent-child team competitions every 20 minutes, midway games, face painting, balloon animals, activity booths, huge raffle prizes every 15 minutes, a dunk tank, Duncan Yo-Yo performers, Jugglers, and awesome coupons for that day only! Everyone’s invited!
Top Ten Toys is hosting a “Parking Lot Playday” from 3-4 p.m. on Thursday, at 104 N. 85th St.
Wanna play some Four-Square? Wanna dominate some hopscotch? Wanna shoot some Stomp Rocket rockets onto our roof?
Well come on down to what we’re hoping to be a sunny day and do it all! We’ll section off a portion of our parking lot and draw up some nice, chalky activities for everyone to participate in!
P.S. If its raining like crazy, we’ll have a backup arts and crafts play day. Glitter Tattoos, Paper Airplanes, maybe even some pine-cone bird feeders! Either way, we’ll have some fun!