Forget ordering online. Brookline’s collection of locally owned, independent toy stores is really hard to beat. In these toy stores you can not only do your holiday shopping, but also find a play space for your little one.
Any of these great indie toy stores will help you find really unique, cool gifts and toys that you would never have thought about if you hadn’t seen them for yourself. You’ll seriously be cheating yourself if you don’t check out every one of these awesome options.
312 Harvard St. in Coolidge Corner
This is the go-to store for everything baby. The fun starts with the customized baby baskets. These baskets all have names like “Nighty Night” or “Mini Mozart” and are filled with different themed items. The Nighty Night basket is full of comfort items to help babies sleep. The Mini Mozart is all about age appropriate music toys. And so on. Feel free to use this tip to win the title of “most memorable gift giver” at your next baby shower.
If you’re having a baby of your own then you’ll also really appreciate the fact that they’ll give you personalized advice about strollers and car seats. They’ve got plenty of just straight-up baby supplies too, like nursery furniture, baby clothes, and feeding supplies.
Henry Bear’s Park
19 Harvard Street, Brookline Village
Henry Bear’s has won plenty of “Best in Boston” awards, and there are good reasons for that. This is the kind of store where you’re likely to see adults sneaking in some play time, here and there. The kids certainly enjoy the hands-on shopping experience here.
Just about every toy in this store is designed to really engage kid’s brains. Think jumbo sized ball-and-stick forts that they can hang out in (eat your heart out, Tinker Toys) or solar powered robots that they can build. They’ve also got active outdoor toys, and quite a few nostalgic reboots.
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Irving’s Toy and Card Shop
371 Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner
Don’t go looking for Irving’s. You won’t find one. In this case, it’s a good thing. Ethel Weiss has been running the store since 1939, and she has barely changed a thing in all that time. That’s part of the store’s charm, because it’s a bit like stepping into a time machine.
Ten cent candy, silly putty, classic toys—it’s all here. Nothing is very expensive, since it’s designed to be the kind of place where kids can go to spend their pocket money. Since Irving’s is right next to an elementary school kids pretty much go and do just that all the time.
667 Centre St., Jamaica Plain
Boing! has a huge variety of toys to choose from. The owners are also heavily invested in the local community, which is why they give 10% of their annual profits to over 50 local charities. They can help you find toys to target specific learning skills, such as language development or logical thought.
Boing! sometimes runs events, such as clown parties, which means it’s a nice place to spend a snowy, rainy, or otherwise yucky afternoon.
1360 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA
196 Elm. St, Cambridge, MA
255 Legacy Place, Dedham, MA
Stellabella is worth the drive. At least, me and my girls think so, since it’s one of our favorite places to shop. We love their selection of crafts, dolls, and trains. There is also a lot of play space here, which helps to make the Stellabella experience about a lot more than buying toys.
Though they sell toys for both girls and boys here they also are very passionate about providing a positive, enriching environment for girls. It’s no surprise that if you’ve been looking everywhere for GoldieBlox you can get those here.
Kids R Kids
1952 Centre St., West Roxbury
Kids R Kids doesn’t have a website either: they’re into browsing the old fashioned way. I know, because they have this huge display window which will call your name almost every time you go walking past it.
I love this store because the staff is always so willing to offer fantastic gift suggestions. They do gift wrap, too, which means it’s a great place to pop in and grab something if you have to pick up a quick gift in a hurry.
1349 Beacon St., Coolidge Corner
This is THE store for puzzle lovers. Jigsaw puzzles – check. Blacksmith’s puzzles? Check. Puzzles where you have to pack stuff into other stuff? No problem. This is a great store to get stuff for both kids and adults.
Eureka! Puzzles also has all of the really cool Indie Board games all stored under one roof, so that you can browse without having to know the name of every one of them. I’m talking about games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic. This store is like pure kryptonite for the geek in your life, and I mean that in a good way.
Here is a one minute video introduction to the store:
1296 Centre St., Newton Center
As the name implies, Learning Express is a great place to pick up a variety of teaching toys and crafting toys that will help your kids get in touch with their creativity. They also have a number of “skill builders” aimed at special needs kids, some of which are hard to find anywhere else.
Technically this store is a franchise, but it’s not a big box store, and it continues to maintain its “indie” look and feel. The store launched right here in Massachusetts, so I still consider it to be one of our own.
The Curious George Store
1 John F Kennedy St., Cambridge, Harvard Square
The only store in the world devoted entirely to the namesake monkey hero of the classic children’s Curious George books. You can get books, DVDs, tote bags, toothbrushes, and of course, Curious George toys.
For out-of-towners this is a destination store, somewhere to stop on their touring route. Locals lucky enough to live here know that there are items you literally can’t find anywhere else, not even on eBay or Amazon.com.
The Children’s Book Shop
237 Washington St., Brookline Village
Okay, so technically, this isn’t a toy store. But a book store devoted entirely to children’s books is still worth a mention. There are nearly 30,000 children’s titles in here, which means the entire store is like walking into some sort of book wonderland. It’s a pretty fantastic spot to get your kids hooked on reading.
Nobody will blame you if you spend a few hours there without your kids. You wouldn’t be the first adult that’s been found tucked behind some shelf or another, giggling over a beloved title from the past.
I love Brookline!
I could have just as easily have titled this page: “9 More Reasons Why I Love Living in Brookline.” I feel like I’d really be missing something if I had to live in a place where a big box toy store was going to be my only option. The shopping experience at an indie store is just completely different, and is, in fact, superior in many, many ways.
Want to live close enough to visit these cool places whenever you want? Search homes and condos in Brookline, MA now.