BERLIN — With its relaxing classical music, colorful array of stuffed animals and layout crafted with a high attention to detail, it’s plain to see World of Toys — a new shop on North Main Street — isn’t a run-of-the-mill toy store.
Opened one month ago by Olga Kozhevwikova, World of Toys is stocked with many high quality brands that provide everything from simple entertainment to lessons as they play.
“I just try to bring what’s best for the children,” Kozhevwikova said. “Toys that are carefully chosen make a world of difference in a child’s growth.”
Toys manufactured by Melissa & Doug, a reputable and high-end toy company, represent the majority of products on the shelves. Melissa & Doug creates a wide variety of toys, from play sets to puzzles, and is well known for making all products in the United States and using real wood while including no toxic substances in any toy.
“That’s what makes it unique and that’s why people buy it,” said Kozhevwikova, who added that no paint will come off any toy, even if a kid is in the height of his or her chewing phase.
Many sets of Melissa & Doug dolls and dollhouses are available to choose from, in which the furniture looks like it was sitting in a real house before being miniaturized by a shrink ray.
A wide variety of wooden cars, trucks and trains made by the same company are available as well, with separate themed block sets and roads that can combine to create one giant play area.
In the middle of the store is a Melissa & Doug arts and crafts section. Sketch pads, paintbrushes and even a genuine, albeit miniature, art easel can be purchased for kids with big imaginations.
Wooden play sets, such as a grill with optional stir-fry and barbecue add-ons are also manufactured by the toy company, as are puzzles that are displayed in one large section of the store. Floor puzzles range from 20-100 pieces, and regular puzzles start from 30 pieces and can contain as many as 500 pieces.
Sunny Patch, a Melissa & Doug beach product line, encompasses a corner of the store and provides many accessories to keep children entertained in the sun, such as a bright orange crab-shaped Velcro ball and glove package.
Next to the beach line are two game companies that test the thought power of young children. Blue Orange creates a variety of games, including card games like Tell Tale in which players pick cards from a deck that display pictures unique characters, items and locations. It is then up to the kids, who take turns telling their own story based on what cards were picked.
ThinkFun separates itself from the other game company, as every product requires critical thinking while having fun at the same time. Its most popular game, according to Kozhevwikova, is Rush Hour, a sliding block puzzle game with the goal of positioning vehicles that are “stuck in traffic” a certain way to clear the congestion.
On the softer side, a multitude of plush toys are stocked from Gund. There are general Gund plush animals, such as dogs and turtles, along with a Sesame Street line that looks so genuine, each Muppet could be featured in an episode without anyone realizing they were toy replicas.
While most of the toys are geared for children around 8 years old and younger, the store will soon be stocked with a series of boxed science projects for kids reaching up to their teenage years. Mythbusters and Magic School Bus-themed boxes contain projects such as microscope kits and chemistry labs.
Kozhevwikova, who has lived in Berlin for two years, took a marketing and research business class at Wor-Wic Community College last winter to learn how to start a business.
With a background that includes working as a Girl Scouts of America counselor and volunteer at Ocean City Elementary School, she felt opening a business for kids made the most sense.
“I walked into the class saying I want to open a toy store, and when I left, I was ready to open one,” she said.
While researching the best place to open a business, she met with a realtor who highly recommended Berlin based on the recent growth in business of the town.
“I didn’t want to end up in Ocean City where there is nothing in the winter,” said Kozhevwikova.
A specialty of World of Toys attributes to the owner’s knowledge of her toys and games.
“Knowing my products well, I can offer certain products based on the age group,” she said. “I always go to every one of my customers and try to suggest something.”
Although the store carries numerous toys, customers are welcome to inquire about special ordering certain products not offered at the store.
Supported by family and friends such as Raymond Bacon and Kozhevwikova’s son, Alex, the shop fits Berlin’s family-oriented atmosphere.
“We’re happy we’re part of the Berlin business community and hope that everybody will have as much fun playing with these toys as [the family’s] kids have.
World of Toys, located at 110 N. Main St., is open seven days a week. For more information, call 410-641-0601