Archives for April 2011

A Windy City Momma Finds A New Toy Store

Occasionally, I find myself with a free afternoon.  I like to take advantage of these rare opportunities and explore a never explored area of Chicagoland.  Today, I landed in Glencoe and Winnetka.

I am the type of mom who likes to stockpile birthday gifts.  Yes, if you are reading this and actually live near me, chances are pretty good that your daughters’ gifts were purchased well before I actually received an invitation to the party.  But not to fear, I almost always purchase these gifts with one thought on my mind: Would my daughter want to receive this gift if it was her birthday?

So today I decided to explore Beat Street, a boutique-y toy store that has, among other things:

Toys, gifts, candy, seasonal gifts, tin robots, japanese items, party favors, pajamas, t-shirts, jewelry, plush, unique and unusual items, arts & crafts, science toys, artisan items, board games, baby gifts, spa and beauty products, bags, purses, wallets, lunch boxes, books, boy and girl gifts, stickers, music boxes, flip books, yo-yos, back to school items, holiday, keychains, watches, clocks, blankets, pillows, bean bags…

Here’s a pic from their Yelp.com “page”:

Despite its location, in the stereotypic “North Shore” notoriously known for its ambivalent sales staff and snotty affect,  I found the customer service at Beat Street to be quite agreeable and the staff to be knowledgable and accommodating.  For instance, when I asked for a particular shirt (Eat Vegetables, Not our Friends (animals)) that was out of stock, the owner offered to order it for me.

The store is LOADED with the “MUST HAVES” for the 12 and under birthday party set (particularly for girls.)  They carry a wide assortment of Klutz products as well as other more well-known toys brands.  (Breyer horses anyone?)  In fact I may have spent over 45 minutes just browsing and stocking up on birthday gifts.

I snapped a picture of  just one of funky items I picked up this afternoon:

30 Hair Tie Lollipop

I have a few suggestions/comments that could make this store a little more accommodating: mainly, better organization.

  1. When I first entered Beat Street, the back of the store was quite messy and I could not look at some of the items because there was so much stuff on the floor.  It looked like a 2 year old had just thrown all of the merchandise on the floor and made a quick exit out the back door. But by the time I left (again, 45 minutes later) the owner had cleaned everything up.  It is a bit hard to navigate around the store because there is so much product and not enough space.  I had a hard time finding some things and needed to ask for assistance in finding toys for young children.
  2. Also, something that I felt was strange was that there is no restroom or bathroom accessible to the store’s clientele.  Why does this matter?  Because when you bring a child into any store, there is always a chance that the child will need to use the facilities.  I would think that a store designed to entice children, would also want to accommodate their primary customers.  I was informed that the store did not have a bathroom because the water was turned off and was then directed to the Panera Bread across the street.  I was pretty “turned off” by the explanation but decided that it was not a reason not to shop at this store. Had I had a child with me, I might have left the store to take care of her and then not bother to return.  Since I was by myself, no having easy access to a bathroom was not my primary concern.
  3. No website: When I asked about a web site, I was informed that they were working on it.  As someone who shops online A LOT and knows people who don’t live anywhere near this store, I think that it is unfortunate that the Beat Street owners are cutting out this important group of customers.  They have such incredible inventory and I am sure could make a killing with online business!

Whenever I visit and spend money in a store, I ask myself two key questions:  Is the store worthy of my coming back and would I have trouble getting my child out of the store.  In both cases, I would say a very definite “YES!”  Beat Street is a great store to pick up birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter etc. etc. gifts.  Not only will I be back, but I will also recommend to my pals that they check out Beat Street for themselves!

Address and other pertinent information:

Beat Street
930 Green Bay Road
Winnetka, IL  60093 
(847) 441-8580

A Windy City Momma Appreciates

I Appreciate You!

Today’s Weight Watchers meeting was all about me. Well, not me exactly but about making time for myself. One of the questions the leader asked was if any of us had an appreciation log/journal. Right… like I have time to jot down the top 10 things that I appreciate the most? So, in an effort to create some “me time” and to acknowledge the things that I am most appreciative of, I figured that I would create a list and see where it takes me.
Disclaimer: I am most appreciative of having my incredible family including my husband, daughter, sisters, parents as well as my friends. It goes without saying that I appreciate the people in my life first and foremost. This is not that kind of list. This is the random and somewhat silly appreciation list that makes me smile or chuckle to myself when I think of these things.I appreciate:

  1. Homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream on a hot summer night at the beach
  2. Napping under the pine trees in northern Minnesota and listening to the wildlife all around me.
  3. Spending time alone
  4. Having a dog who follows me around and sits in front of the shower so no one disturbs me
  5. The radio station WHFS 99.1 and being introduced to some of my (still) favorite bands like the Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Erasure etc. etc.
  6. That my “happy place” is on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay
  7. Judy Blume and her genuine candor. Not sure I would have made it through puberty without her sage guidance.
  8. Going to a Quaker School and moments of reflection and silence
  9. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (If you’ve seen it, and like it, you get it)
  10. Having had a chance to eat all sorts of delicacies from various parts of the world and sharing them with my family and friends.

Having created the list am I more appreciative?  No, not really.  But I do realize that I touched on a lot of things/memories that I shared with some really important people in my life.  Is it me time if I am thinking about others and the various things that we experienced together?

So, dear reader, what about you?  Other than the people in your life and the basics (shelter, enough food, that we don’t live in Libya etc) of what are you most appreciative?