Nestled on Arthur Street in the heart of the Exchange District, Toad Hall Toys has been a staple in the community for 45 years. A family business since its beginning, Toad Hall Toys was opened in 1977 by Ann and Ray England and is now managed by their daughter Kari England.
Ann and Ray were drawn to the Exchange District for a variety of reasons- the architecture, cobblestone streets, history, an excellent walk-around feel, and reasonable rent. The fact that they’d be located in the heart of the city, in a neighbourhood very accessible to everyone, made the Exchange District the right choice.
And what a choice it was- 45 years later Toad Hall Toys is still making people smile. Kari believes a big reason for their longevity and success is that they are consistent, and never try to be something they are not.
Their mantra is “To offer toys and diversions that do what they are supposed to do, for the age they are supposed to do it for”, and Kari says they look for items that make people smile, engage them, are beautiful, quirky and just plain fun.
“Even during the often stressful lead-up to the holidays, people and our Toads are giggling over fun finds, shared likes and discovering something they didn’t even know they were looking for.”
Fun is a major tenet at Toad Hall, and you can hear it as you walk through the shop. Kari shared that one of the things she loves the most about the store is the laughter they hear all the time-
With a great selection of products, even if you don’t know what you’re looking for you’re sure to leave with something- as the purchaser for the store, Kari makes sure of that. When she was first taken to toy trade shows, her father told her “Look up, down, in corners. You never know where you will find that gem.” Kari believes that sentiment translates to life itself- whether you’re shopping, walking in the woods, or visiting a gallery.
“If you don’t look all over, you miss things,” says Kari- who also scours trade magazines, online business-to-business platforms, and information from customers and sales reps when curating product selection. When deciding what to bring into the shop, Kari names aesthetic beauty, quality, whimsy, and the ‘gee whiz’ factor as prerequisites that make items a good fit for Toad Hall.
Based on the loyalty of the Toad Hall customers, it seems that their formula is working. Kari has great memories of customers who have been coming in their whole life. There are adult customers who grew up with Toad Hall, parents who bring in graduation photos of their children, and couples who get their wedding photos taken at the shop. And isn’t that what any business wants- a real sense of community?
It’s easy to tell that community is a huge part of the business, and will continue to bring them success. As you’re shopping for gifts this season, stop by Toad Hall Toys. As Kari said, “Whether you have children in your life or are, like me, a child at heart, you can’t help but find something here that will make you happy.”
Here’s what Toad Hall Toys recommends as great gift options:
1. Exit Games
Like a board game version of an escape room, exit games are full of riddles, puzzles, and fun.
2. Miniature Room Kits
Cute kits that let you build your own mini kitchen, library, bedroom, bookstore, and more.
3. Tin Wind-Up Toys
Reworks of cool vintage wind-up toys like this Duck on Bike.
4. Plus-Plus Building Kits
Building kits with pieces that are the same shape and can connect together. Build something specific or custom, the possibilities are endless!
From finger puppets to whole-hand creations, their selection of puppets are beautiful and detailed options for any age.
You can find Toad Hall Toys at 54 Arthur Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba.