As Toys “R” Us begins its attempt at a comeback, Franklin’s Toys remains an ever-present part of the local community.
For more than 30 years, the local toy store, with locations in Severna Park and Annapolis, has provided an experience focused on a belief that healthy play is an important part of childhood.
“I think the biggest thing that we can do is offer an experience that you’re just not going to get online or in larger chain stores,” said Anne Barnes, co-owner of the store.
With decades of experience between them, Barnes and her partner, Stephen Kaufmann, took over Franklin’s Toys in 2017 and continue to build on the legacy established by Jeff and Lee Franklin. The stores offer great toys in a warm, family-friendly environment where kids are encouraged to come in and play.
“It’s a fun place for your kids,” Barnes said. “All sorts of research shows that kids don’t play anymore. The advantages of just taking the time to play are huge, and we’re here to support that.”
With her store being a member of The Good Toy Group, which is made up of 100 independent toy stores around the country, Barnes takes pride in running a local small business.
“I think the most passionate thing for me is that we don’t lose these mom-and-pops,” she said. “We’re trying to do our best to ensure that we – and others – continue to stay around.”
Being a small business also helps them establish relationships with vendors and other companies, enabling them to offer unique items for customers.
“There are vendors who are not going to sell to the big guys online,” explained Barnes. “They’re going to keep it exclusive to mom-and-pops, small businesses, so we can have that uniqueness. Having a play area and staff who are very knowledgeable, and we wrap for free – you’re not going to get that anywhere.”
They also take pride in being actively involved in the communities around their stores. Franklin’s supports fundraisers for schools and local organizations, as well as toy drives and other events, throughout the year.
“There’s no denying the convenience of certain things online,” Barnes said. “But I’d like to hope that when it comes to your kid and making sure that you get quality, good, unique stuff that you will make the trip in [to the store].”
Along with encouraging folks to come in and play, Barnes also encourages everyone to check out their holiday catalog, which includes a variety of coupons for different items. Franklin’s Toys is also running sales throughout the holiday season.
If you can't make it in to visit, the website offers a broad selection of what's carried in the stores. For more information, visit www.franklinstoystore.com.