You won’t find video games or electronic gadgets at Yeager’s Toyland.
What you will find are wooden train sets, metal trucks, board games, puppets, puzzles and other classic toys that challenge young minds and remind parents and grandparents of the fun they had when they were kids.
“We want interactive toys, back-to-basics,” says Vicki Adelstein, manager of the toy department at Yeager’s Sporting Goods. “It’s all key in early childhood development.”
Adelstein brings decades of retail experience to her role as the queen of toys in the basement retail space at Yeager’s. She worked for Target in St. Louis before moving to Whatcom County in the late 1970s. Once here, she worked at Yeager’s, but not in toys, for about a year before going on to manage the Cost Cutter toy store.
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She later worked in the toy department in Fountain Galleria, in Bellingham’s Fountain District. When that store closed in 2008, she became toy buyer-and-seller-in-chief at Yeager’s and overhauled the downstairs department.
She expanded the amount of display space for toys, moved sports equipment out of the basement, and shifted the focus for toys at Yeager’s.
She knew she couldn’t compete with the prices at big-box stores for electronic gizmos and for kiddie items festooned with the latest superhero and cartoon movie characters. So she concentrated on popular basic brands – such as Lego building sets, Lincoln Logs, and Tonka trucks – plus harder-to-find specialty brands, many of them from Europe.
Specialty brands include Hape wooden toys, Thames & Kosmos science kits, Playmobil building sets, Ravensburger puzzles, Breyer horses, Bruder trucks and tractors, and Folkmanis hand puppets.
“They’re the Cadillac of puppets,” Adelstein says.
There’s also a bounty of time-tested toys and activities: Stuffed animals and children’s books. Arts and craft materials. Wooden trains and brain teasers. Board games and card games. Science and nature kits and equipment. Yo-yos, jump ropes and jacks. And marbles, by the bag and by the piece.
New sections feature Great Pretender costumers for young boys and girls, and bean bag chairs, pillows and glittery room decor items for pre-teen girls.
“Other than electronics, I can’t think of too much that we don’t carry,” Adelstein says.
The center of the department features a sit-down area where children and adults can play with a Calico Critters playhouse and a wooden train set, and little ones can steer a self-propelled PlasmaCar down the wide aisles.
“See the toys, feel the toys,” Adelstein says. “It’s a completely different experience, especially for the kids.”
Toys, of course, are a big part of birthdays. Yeager’s Toyland offers free gift wrap for presents, and has a program in which birthday boys and girls up to 12 years of age are sent a birthday card and a $5 gift card.
“We’re big on birthdays,” Edelstein says. “We’re known for that.”
Yeager’s Toyland also provides prizes for children who complete the Summer Reading program at Bellingham Public Library.
Along with all she has done at Toyland, Adelstein rejuvenated the kitchenwares department at Yeager’s. Also located in the department, that part of store is especially strong on equipment and supplies for food preservation.
“We’re definitely the canning headquarters for Whatcom County,” Adelstein says. “But my first love is always toys.”
Location: Yeager’s Sporting Goods, 3101 Northwest Ave.
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday