The 5 Best Independent Toy Stores in Houston
Buy your next perfect gift at one of these locally owned shops.
Toys”R”Us and Target might have Black Friday doorbuster deals, but nothing quite compares to the distinctive character of your neighborhood toy store. Houston is the fourth-largest city in the country, but walking into a locally owned toy shop can make you feel like you’re in a small town. The cozy spaces are curated to perfection with classic and modern toys and serve as a gathering place for area families. Staff members actually know about the items they sell -- and that can make a huge difference when trying to find the perfect gift.
Walk into any one of the Bayou City’s independent toy stores, and you’ll find kids sprawled on the floor giving a toy a test-drive before taking it home. Parents, babysitters, and nannies interested in shopping local this holiday season -- or all year long -- should start by visiting one of these five!
Address: 237 W. 19th St., Houston, TX 77008
Hours: Monday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. | Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. | Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.
Smack dab in the middle of the Heights’ famous 19th Street shopping area sits a cute little toy shop that looks like the set of a meet cute in a rom-com. Equal parts quaint and unique, Big Blue Whale embodies a lot of what makes the neighborhood so fun to live in and visit. It’s also a vibrant part of its tight-knit community -- collecting donations for shelters and school children during Hurricane Harvey, for example -- and offering a space for kids and their caregivers to find joy in playing. The shop stocks a wide selection of toys, including vintage games, handmade toys, and modern educational activity sets.
The store is located right across the street from Boomtown Coffee, one of the city’s best kid-friendly coffee shops, and a great place to celebrate your spoils after a trip to the toy store!
Address: 4844 Beechnut St., Houston, TX 77096
Hours: Monday - Wednesday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. | Thursday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. | Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Just around the corner from Target in Meyerland Plaza, Tomfoolery Toys & Books provides a great selection of classic and unique toys for toddlers and primary school-age children. It’s the sort of place you can find both a lamb lovie and a rainbow-colored narwal -- making it a great spot to shop for those hard-to-please kiddies.
Swing by every Thursday at 11:15 a.m. for story time, where leaders from Literacy Enrichment And Play (LEAP) will read books, sing songs, and do exercises geared toward kids ages 2 to 5. And after, little ones can explore some more in the stores’ designated play area.
Address: 1715 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. | Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.
While Toys to Love certainly has what kids want, it also has a fair bit of what kids need -- from preschool backpacks to bath towels to mosquito-repellant wristbands. The store also stocks a wide selection of necessities and apparel for young campers and will mail a care package full of goodies to a sleep-away camp for you. Want to give something extra special? Toys to Love can even personalize items with a monogram or vinyl lettering.
Address: 3851 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX 77025
Hours: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. | Saturday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. | Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.
For a more traditional toy store with plenty of items for the whole family, Imagination Toys & Shoes is a great bet. Despite what the name suggestions, the store offers way more than just toys and kids’ shoes. Shelves are loaded up with apparel and accessories for all ages, as well as a plethora of home décor items. The whole store is also brimming with local pride -- items like longhorn-blazoned T-shirts and Texas flag cross-stitched pillows are front and center -- and there’s no judgment when kids want to play a little while you shop.
Address: 2401 Rice Blvd., Houston, TX 77005
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. | Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Located in the heart of Rice Village, FUNdamentally Toys has only a fraction of the shelf space found in big chain stores -- but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality. Durable, long-lasting wooden toys from companies like Melissa & Doug and Hape are on display, along with a host of unique and interesting play sets, games, and costumes. A small alcove features a range of books for all young age groups, and toys are positioned throughout the store for kids to try out and play.
A neighborhood store at its heart, FUNdamentally Toys also actively engages with the community. The store hosts contests and activities throughout the year, like LEGO-building competitions and donation drives to benefit local schools and food banks. One of its most helpful offerings is its staff. The small crew is always happy to make suggestions for whatever you’re looking for, and the website offers helpful tips for toys based on age ranges and developmental areas.