Inside, natural light streamed through the large stained glass window, illuminating the wide open space. The high ceilings helped avoid that cluttered feeling that toy shops often have. The apse of the building had been playfully redecorated as a gradated sky hung with snowflakes and fluffy white clouds. Products were arranged intentionally and wisely in sections: gag gifts and similar small low-cost toys over here, sticker books, dolls and play food over there, and board games and books in the back, all of which made it easy to redirect our toddler to age-appropriate areas.
Plenty was set up for Moo to get her hands dirty with. We loved watching her play with the train set assembled on a kid-sized table. She wheeled the wooden train around the track many, many times which gave us an opportunity to speak to the shop’s owner, Lisa.
Lisa, who was busy restocking shelves, informed us that winter was toy show season and so the store was uncharacteristically empty (which didn’t seem the case to us!). From there we talked of how Toy Soup came to be situated inside an old church (the congregation outgrew the building so they built a new one) as well as Lisa’s history living in Switzerland and in Washington D.C. Our conversation soon unearthed the theme of Canadian restraint and how a sense of national humility might be changing with people embracing patriotism in the great white north. You never know where conversations with friendly strangers will take you!
We were so enamoured with the space we regretfully neglected to capture any actual product photos, but the inventory was just as great as the building. There were thoughtfully chosen interactive learning books (a letter-tracing one with magnets that looked fun), and our personal favourite – reusable sticker books. Moo had received one for Christmas and we wondered why it took us over two years to discover them – they are insanely awesome: hours of fine motor occupation whether in the car, at home or at a friend’s. Of course we couldn’t leave without getting another one by Melissa & Doug.
Independently owned toy shops like this one are fantastic because of the charm and obvious love that owners pour into their business. We also can’t recommend them highly enough when in the midst of furniture shopping with a toddler. It’s a welcome break for young and old alike.
If you liked this post, check our other recent stop in St. Jacobs village at Artefacts Salvage and Design.