Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shop local kid's stores this holiday season

I used to enjoy the fun and excitement of going to stand in line at 6am on Black Friday for some cool deals. But when it became 3am, then midnight, and now Thanksgiving, I pretty much checked out of any shopping at big chain stores on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Consumerism has become such a priority in our country, that people have even been trampled in the process. It’s a mess and not one that I want to have a part in. So this year, I decided it would be fun to team up with some of the top local small businesses that only sell kid’s items and promote their love for kids, great products, and building a strong community here in Pittsburgh. I have been to each of these stores and they are fantastic, not only in their creative product lines, but in cleanliness and wonderful customer service. We all know that small businesses usually come out on top in the customer service departments, and these stores are no exception! Every single one of these stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day as they will be home celebrating with their families. But come Black Friday & Small Business Saturday, they have some amazing deals set to launch and are ready for YOU! So as you start checking off your gift list, please make these local Pittsburgh stores a must-stop for any kids on your list!

Snapology (1699 Washington Road / Bethel Park, opened in 2010) 
Snapology offers creative play great for kids of all ages and includes Lego® Building Station, Lego® Minecraft® Station, Lego® Slot Car Racing, Giant Soft Blocks®, Zoobs®, Lego® Duplo® Blocks + much more! They also offer birthday parties, classes, camps, workshops, parent’s nights out, scouting events, field trips, playdates and special events in their Discovery Center in Bethel Park as well as in schools, recreation centers, libraries and other facilities in North, South, East and West Pittsburgh. Their programs focus on educational play using Lego bricks and other building toys.  They also have some retail building sets for sale at their Discovery Center. Their most popular classes, camps and birthday party themes are Lego Minecraft, Lego Animation, Lego Robotics and Lego Superheroes.  Their most popular building sets are sports-themed OYO sets and mini-figures.
Black Friday Specials: offering creative play as well as both half-day and full-day camps on Black Friday.  Drop the kids off (ages 5+) and get some serious shopping done. How cool is that?!
Small Business Saturday specials: 10% off all building sets.  BOGO creative play [Pay for one hour of Lego Lab, get the second hour free…per child.] A great deal for a lot of fun!

Learning Express of Robinson (290 Settlers Ridge Center Drive, opened November 2009)
Learning Express of Bakery Square (172 Bakery Square Blvd., opened November 2010)

(Please note: there are other Learning Express stores, but they will not have the same products/specials as these listed.)
The Learning Express product mix is carefully selected from manufacturers around the world that produce toys with exceptional play value. Among these distinguished affiliates are Alex, American Girl, Blue Orange, Calico Critters, Choon’s Design LLC / Rainbow Loom, Cloud B, Creativity for Kids, International Playthings, Klutz, Learning Resources, LEGO, Mattel, Melissa & Doug, Playmobil, Schylling, Scientific Explorer, Small World Toys, Sticky Mosaics, ThinkFun, Three Cheers for Girls, Toysmith, Ty, and Workman Publishing. “We are really excited about a lot of great new products on our shelves this year. Some of our hottest toys are a throwback to toys from our own childhood; Simon, Lite Brite, Booby Trap, Spirograph and Fashion Plates. Of course we have the classic favorites too; Lego, Calico Critters, Elf on the Shelf, and Magnatiles. And we will also be featuring a lot of great promotions and special prices throughout the season!”
Black Friday Specials: 20% OFF Storewide Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Early Bird Special - Extra 10% OFF on Friday from 6AM-9AM! $5 in Bonus Bucks for every $50 spent.
Small Business Saturday specials: customers will be eligible for the
$10 credit through AMEX when they shop on Saturday and the storewide sale of 20% off will continue through the weekend!
We also have Complimentary Gift Wrapping, Free Personalization, and Expert Gift Advice! 

Kidz & Company (5815 Forbes Avenue/Squirrel Hill, opened in 2012)
Kidz & Company specializes in carrying fun, unique children's clothing, toys, gifts, and activities, for newborns - Size 12 for girls / Size 10 for boys.  They will begin carrying size 14’s for girls starting this spring. Some of their current best-selling products for girls includes their collection from Mayoral, Lemon Loves Lime, and Biscotti. For boys, Kapital K and Bitz Kids have been very popular. Some of their most popular toys are anything from Hape Toys as well as activities and puzzles from Djeco.
Black Friday Specials: We will be kicking off our sale season in general, and always pick things to mark down more significantly!
Small Business Saturday specials: Our Black Friday Specials will carry on into Small Business Saturday assuming they're still available.  If we actually sell out of everything we had put on special, we'll make new specials!

E2 Toys to Try (426 James Street/Bridgeville, opened six years ago)  
E2 is a wonderful indoor playspace combined with a unique toy store. Owner Meredyth has a background in Speech, Language Pathology and Early Intervention with an emphasis on Social Communication so their toys are geared toward enhancing social communication. They choose toys that encourage cognitive development and social play over toys that do the work of play for kids. E2 has made the indoor picnic space larger during the cold months. They've also added a new morning tot-time from 9-10am which is a special play time for kids 3 and under. E2 has created a special time for younger kids, who can sometimes feel intimidated by older ones, to really use and explore the playground. During this time the bubble machine will be turned on, there will be younger-themed art activities and a parachute is available as well!  Cost is $5.00 (kids can stay and play after that too).
One of their best-selling toys is the Name Train line. Meredyth says, I love Name Trains because they teach reading in a social way. You can make up all kinds of adventures for the train to find the missing letter to turn "at" into "cat" or "in" into "win". Teaching reading in a social way makes it more fun and actually helps kids remember better because it uses more of their brain to process the language associated with reading. They also make great stocking suffers! :)Their Ravensburger puzzles and Haba teethers are also very popular.
Black Friday Specials: spend $40.00 or more and you’ll get a pass for a free playground entry (good anytime). Don't have kids of your own? Can be given as a gift!
Small Business Saturday Specials: spend $40.00 or more and you’ll get a pass for a free playground entry (good anytime).
Play passes for the indoor playspace make great gifts for kids!!

Happy Baby Company (558 Lincoln Avenue/Bellevue, opened 5 years ago.)

Happy Baby Company carries a wide range of natural parenting products. Cloth diapers and accessories, baby carriers of all kinds, amber teething necklaces and lots of great teethers, extended rear facing car seats, body care products for baby and mom, eco-friendly and wooden toys, a small bit of furniture and clothing, blankets & bibs, and much more! The current owners first started a diaper service, Green Cheeks, about 4 years ago, and took over Happy Baby about a year and a half ago, when the store moved to Bellevue. Owner Judy says, We have been selling a lot of Munchie Mugs lately, which are wonderful snack cups for toddlers.  Sakura Bloom ring slings (for wearing your baby) have also been selling quickly, as have many of our toys and teethers.  Amber teething necklaces are always a big seller as well.
Black Friday Specials:  They are still in the works, but we always have great specials online and in store.  We'll have some fantastic gifts with purchase at different levels, and we'll definitely have some in store only specials as well. They'll all be announced on our facebook page as soon as we have them finalized.

Small Business Saturday specials: Many Black Friday specials will carry through the weekend, but there will also be an in store giveaway and a few extra specials for Saturday, so stop by! Judy says, We really appreciate the community coming out to support us on SBS and throughout the year.  We love our loyal customers! :-)

Love these great stores and that each of them are run by hard-working moms & dads right here in Pittsburgh.  I hope you'll be able to stock up on some great gifts from their stores this Christmas season! If you are an American Express cardholder, be sure to register your card online here and on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 29, Spend $10+, Get $10 Back. Up to 3X!! 

Happy Shopping!

This post sponsored in part by each of the stores listed.

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