Today we are featuring a gem of a toy store. Snickelfritz Toys is a small neighborhood toy store nestled among the national chains at Westfield Hawthorn.
Carol VanDeHoef is the owner of Snickelfritz Toys and she answered our Mompreneur Questions to give us an inside look at the store and their history.
What was the catalyst that started your business?
We already owned and were operating a Lemstone Christian Bookstore in Hawthorn Mall when one of the companies that sold us books approached us about opening a children’s bookstore. As a formal teacher, I found the idea of running a store that sold children’s books very appealing. It wasn’t something we sought out but an opportunity that presented itself. Right from the start we carried some toys. Mostly ones that went along with the books but also toys that were educational and helped children grow and develop. We actually carried the very first puzzle that Melissa and Doug ever made. It was a simple peg puzzle with fuzzy farm animals.
How long have you been in business?
We opened BOOKids in 1991. In 2001, we relocated the store to its present location by the children’s play area. It wasn’t until 2005 that we changed the name to Snickelfritz Toys and stopped selling children’s books completely. The book market became very competitive with a large portion of sales moving online. The change from bookstore to toy store was a gradual process. Over about 8 years, we started to slowly increase the amount of toys that we carried.
How did you come up with the name?
Snickelfritz was the nickname my father called my daughter. It is a German word meaning mischievous child and is a term of endearment. Similar to calling your child a little monster, it has a positive connotation not a negative one.
What is the best thing about your job?
It is a real privilege to be able to serve our community – to be able to work with parents and grandparents to find the toys that help their kids grow, learn, and develop. I love being able to provide unique toys that are hard to get elsewhere as well as the classic toys that parents remember from their childhood. It is a great feeling when a child and their parent both leave the store happy.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Keeping up with all the newest products that are available. While it is a challenge, I think it is also my favorite part of my job. I love going to trade shows and talking with our reps to find new things to share with our customers.
What is the most important thing you want our readers to know?
We know customer service can make a big difference in where you choose to shop. One of the benefits of being a small store is our ability to provide personal service. We have a very knowledgeable staff and we encourage our customers to take advantage of our knowledge. Stop in and strike up a conversation – allow us to help you find the toys and products that are right for the children in your life.
Snickelfritz Toys is going to help with your Christmas shopping and let you experience the difference in their personal service for yourself. They have a $50 gift card for one of our readers to use in their store! To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter form below, ends December 9.
The Fourth Shop of Christmas: Snickelfritz Toys
208 Hawthorn Center, Vernon Hills
Lower level across from the kids area in front of JCPenney