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Thinking and creativity are part of business' game plan

 

By Gail T. Boatman Correspondent | Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 6:30 am

Day in the Life Toy Store

Moira Roberts (left standing) and her mother, Myrna Roberts, look over the Web page for their store, created by Karen Brager (seated), social media director.

EVESHAM — It is often said that learning can be fun. Moira Roberts goes one step further. “It should be fun,’’ she said.

Roberts is the owner of Young Minds Toys, a family business that was a fixture for seven years on Route 73. In October, it moved to a space in the Crispin Square Shopping Center on North Maple Avenue.

Roberts sees the move, which doubled the store’s size, as an opportunity. “It has created a whole new customer base for us,’’ she said.

The business owner, a Mount Laurel resident, grew up surrounded by people who were invested in education. Her grandfather founded Roberts Brothers, a Pennsauken firm that deals in supplemental material for schools. Her father and uncle now run it and she once worked there.

Young Minds is a toy store with a difference. Few electronics or mass market items will be found on its shelves. There are no Barbie dolls peeking out from displays. In their place are materials that foster creative play.

Toys, games and puzzles that engage children while entertaining them are featured. The merchandise is divided by categories and one especially strong section features items related to science.

“We like the idea of encouraging children and especially girls to get interested in science,’’ said Roberts, looking to a future where more women would pursue a career in engineering.

Dolls have not been forgotten. There is an extensive selection, enough to delight any little girl. Other sections are devoted to construction-related toys and those used in outdoor play. “We love children to be outdoors enjoying themselves,’’ the business owner said.

Retro toys are also popular and Roberts envisions families sitting on the floor playing pick-up sticks. “What could be more fun than that?’’ she asked.

Next month, Roberts will travel to New York City to attend the annual International Toy Fair, the must-attend event for her business. There, she will see the latest toys and make crucial buying decisions.

Along with its unusual products, the store prides itself on personal service and attention to detail. “We know our merchandise and can explain how things work,’’ she said. They will also wrap items at no charge, a service that is prized by harried parents, like the young woman who rushed in one afternoon announcing that she needed a birthday gift and had to be at the party in five minutes.

Family life, the inspiration for so many of the products, also prevails in the store, where Roberts’ mother and aunt are actively involved. And while it may be absent from the shelves, technology is very much a presence in the business plan.

Social Media Director Karen Brager is putting together an ambitious program to increase the business’s connection to social media. “We’re already on Facebook but we’re making a new push to gain a greater presence on Twitter and in other areas,’’ said Brager, who met Roberts when both were sixth grade students at what was then the Mount Laurel Middle School.