An independently owned toy store will open up in the River District soon.
Amy Pruitt will have toys for all children with a variety of interests and offer eco-friendly, sustainable toys for those with sensory issues. Her store will sell products from around the world that cannot be found on Amazon or at big-box retailers.
She plans to open The Happy Little Fox Toy Shop at 321 Lynn St. sometime in October.
“The whole point is for me to create a safe place for parents and children to feel welcome and wanted, to have a place to be heard for what their children’s needs are,” Pruitt said during an interview while she was working her last day at The Dog-Eared Page Bookstore.
Pruitt, who has worked at the Main Street business since it opened two years ago, is quitting her job there to concentrate on preparing to open The Happy Little Fox Toy Shop.
Part of her business will cater to neurodivergent individuals, including those on the autism spectrum or who have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. They also include children with sensory issues, such as sensitivity to light, sounds or certain textures, which can cause sensory overload that can trigger panic attacks.
“Neurodivergent” or “neurodiversity” is the concept that people experience and interact with the world around them in a variety of ways, and those differences are not considered deficiencies.
Some of the toys Pruitt will offer will include sensory blocks with different textures and large table mats with a variety of raised textures — such as bumpy or wavy.
“The child can feel it, it can be stimulating but also calming,” Pruitt said.
There will also be large train sets and dollhouses/playhouses offered at The Happy Little Fox, as well as stuffed animals and world-building games appealing to older children and adults.
She will avoid selling toys that beep, squeak or make other loud noises.
“I don’t plan to carry it,” Pruitt said.
Other products will include boutique eeBoo puzzles and Kalid Medieval Toys role-playing toys including swords, bows-and-arrows, armor, battle axes, shields and helmets.
She will also offer STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) toys, as well.
Pruitt aims to sell high-quality, long-lasting toys that parents will want their grandchildren to enjoy.
“People don’t want to just buy plastic crap,” she said. “They want their money to go a long way.”
She will purchase her products from wholesale small businesses that do not sell on Amazon or to big-box retailers. She will focus on selling uniquely-sourced products.
“The main focus is on high-quality stuff that you’re not going to be upset you bought for your kids,” Pruitt said.
But she says her prices will be affordable, ranging from $1 to $5 for stickers to larger toys at just more than $50 to playhouses and trainsets from $100 to $150.
For her first year in business, Pruitt will take a trial-and-error approach to gauge what the community wants at her store.
“The plan is, when I open, to have a wide selection of different things and see how it goes and tailor it to that,” she said.
In addition, Pruitt plans to have occasional “sensory-sensitive times” at The Happy Little Fox, when inside store lighting will be lowered and no music will be played.
Diana Schwartz, CEO of the River District Association, said Pruitt’s business will help diversify the retail environment downtown.
“It’s important to have a mix of stores in the River District that offer not only goods, but experiences you won’t find in other places,” Schwartz said.
In addition, Pruitt’s venture is an example of “entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs,” she said, referring to Pruitt’s employment with The Dog-Eared Page.
Pruitt, who had always dreamed of opening a toy store, didn’t believe doing so would be possible for her. But working for Dog-Eared Page owner Catherine Carter inspired her and gave her the confidence to pursue her own endeavor.
“It’s essentially been like a paid internship where she has shared with me how everything works,” Pruitt said.
She went on to participate in the River District Association’s Dream Launch competition, where she pitched her idea in May and was awarded a $28,000 Ignite Pitch grant for her business.
Besides a desire to open a business offering options to those with special needs, Pruitt’s love of people also plays a role in her entrepreneurial pursuit.
“I absolutely love dealing with people,” she said. “I love meeting people and hearing their stories. It’s inspiring to me, it’s invigorating to me, it’s fun.”
For more information, visit the business’s Facebook page or its website at www.thehappylittlefox.com.
By John Crane, Register & Bee (Original Article Here)