Shop Local – a collection of independent toy stores in Northern Virginia

The Purple Goose | Lakeshore Learning Center | Doodlehopper for Kids | Go Bananas! | Carousel Toy Shoppe

The Purple Goose2005 Mt. Vernon Ave.Alexandria, VA 22301703.683.2918www.thepurplegoose.comFacebook

Oh to be a kid again! No wonder why so many mom friends were recommending me to check out The Purple Goose in Del Ray. Billed as a consignment store, most of what I found in the packed store was new clothing and toys. I lost track trying to focus on everything they had to offer here. They sell items found in big box store and also handmade pieces like hair accessories. A great selection of baby items includes security blankets, Zubels hand knit animals and dolls, and nesting dolls. There is a ton of girl stuff like Corolle dolls, strollers, and Hello Kitty.

Boys will flip over the Playmobil line, along with Tonka trucks and race cars. They have a variety of play kitchens and wooden items from brands like Haba, Plan Toys, Automoblox, Hape, and Wheely Animals by Prince Lionheart. If you like Melissa and Doug, they have a plethora of items here. A new product is The Kindness Kingdom tea party game which teaches manners to children – so cool. A happy moment was seeing good old Raggedy Ann. The store also has on site monogramming to personalize that special gift.

Top toy picks: Sophie la Girafe teething toy, Plan Toys tea set, and Playmobil Knights Castle.

Restroom: available for customers, no changing table.

Lakeshore Learning Center7009A Manchester Blvd.Alexandria, VA 22310703.719.0202There is also a location in Towson, Marylandwww.lakeshorelearning.comFacebook

It may be known as a resource for teachers, but Lakeshore Learning Center is also a wonderful store full of educational fun for children. This is one of a few stores I don’t mind letting my daughter pick out a toy because I know she is learning about something. They have an extensive selection of hardcover books, puzzles, blocks and other manipulatives, educational games and software. I love that they have art supplies and musical instruments that relate to different ethnicities and cultures. Lakeshore Learning offers both toys made in China to Green Toys who make items from recycled milk jugs.

Not to be forgotten is the beloved Melissa and Doug line who are also environmentally conscious creating wooden items like a lacing shoe, chunky and sound animated puzzles, cooking sets and more. The store is set up for kids to have fun offering free crafts every Saturday from 11am to 3pm. Discounts in store and online reel you back in this educational haven.

Top toy picks: Magnetic fishing set, Silly Sentences game, and Children of the World puzzle.

Restroom: available for customers.

Doodlehopper for KidsHuntsman Square Shopping Center (visited this location)7521 Huntsman Blvd.Springfield, VA 22153703.912.7200

228 West Broad St.Falls Church, VA 22046703.241.2262www.doodlehopper.comFacebook

The name Doodlehopper just emanates fun. The locally owned stores have been voted best store four years in a row by Northern Virginia Magazine. This store caters to infants all the way to teens offering quirky toys. Names like Alex, Thomas the Train, Playmobil, Calico Critters, Corolle dolls, and Ugly Dolls may ring a bell. There are career dress-up costumes, tea sets, jewelry and art activities. Who knew erasable crayons existed?

A section is dedicated to babies and toddlers with crinkle toys, Chicken ‘n Egg Stackers, busy bot activity triangles, and wooden balance boats. Future scientists can investigate experiments with fizzy foamy science or a forensic finger print lab. They carry an impressive line of safe, eco-friendly toys made from wood, magnets, bamboo, recycled sawdust and recycled plastic. There are Softimals and dollhouse accessories featuring different ethnic families from Hape. There are a ton of games for home and on the road. Kudos to Doodlehooper for Kids because they offer cool toys, keep little ones happy at two train tables, have excellent customer service, and offer a military discount.

Top toy picks: Salt water fueled race car, nose flute and all-time classic toy, the Rubik’s Cube.

Go Bananas!42395 Ryan Rd. #122ÂAshburn, VA 20148703.327.1900

19352 Promenade Dr.Leesburg, VA 20176571.333.4514www.gobananastoys.comFacebook

Monkeys don’t only reside in the zoo. They happen to live in two huge toy stores in northern Virginia. The kids can monkey around at their awesome play space filled with a train table, Calico Critters animals, doll house, and marble maze. Zoom around the room or outside with a Roby ride on toy, ABC Buggy, YBike, Kazam bike, Swing car, Spooner and more.

Alex Jr. features first games, arts and crafts projects for the littlest explorers, including housekeeping essentials, puppet monsters and gigantic stuffed animals. Of all the stores I reviewed, Go Bananas! has the best selection of environmentally sound and safe toys from Brio, Djeco, Haba, Hape, Janod, Melissa and Doug, Schyilling, and Tegu. If you’re tired of playing Monopoly, Go Bananas has a selection of challenging games like Pajaggle to perk up Family Game Night. Move over Legos because here come Nanoblocks. If micro-sized building block systems aren’t your thing, check out the Ogo Bild Nexus construction set. Go Bananas! always offer free gift wrapping, birthday gift registry, and Customer Club rewards program. The only negative, why does the store sell flavored crickets – ewww!

Top toy picks: Tickle Monster Laughing Kit, Pig Popper, Confetti Ukulele, and a nod to my youth – the Pogo Ball.

Restroom: available for customers with a changing table.

Carousel Toy Shoppe6649 B Old Dominion Dr.McLean, VA 22101703.288.0070carouseltoyshoppe.comFacebook

Located in the McLean Shopping Center, Carousel Toy Shoppe packs their 2,000 square foot store with clothing and toys for a variety of ages. For the younger set, there are lots of Melissa and Doug brand toys, animal figurines, and a Radio Flyer scooter. Toddler items include wooden whimsy blocks, a pull along giraffe, Jack in the Box and Learn to Dress Cat. For elementary-aged children there is a section of stuffed animals, puzzles, books, and games. Kids can play at the train table, receive a balloon and parents get complimentary gift wrapping.

You’ll also find at the store some fun toys for the older set of children. They are LEGO toys, Ravensburger puzzles, Pajaggle (one of their most popular items this holiday season), Spygear, Nano blocks (micro-sized building blocks) and more.

Top toy picks: Sandbox Critters and Melissa & Doug Bella Butterfly Hopscotch.

Restroom: available for customers with a changing table on its way (it’s been ordered)

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OK Editorial Team

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