Best Toy Store

Readers' Pick

World of Mirth

3005 W. Cary St.

Second Place: The Toy Center

Third Place: Toys That Teach

Where else in this town will you find a toy store that sells a pool float shaped like a six-foot cockroach? “People either really like it or hate it,” says World of Mirth’s general manager and buyer, Thea Brown. But it fits perfectly into the store’s take on the toy world and the humans lucky enough to occupy it. “We’re looking for toys that show lots of imagination, that are usually funny and creative, not a lot of batteries,” Brown says. Something like the 3-D-printed Buddha that looks like Yoda. Or the swurfer — part swing, part surfboard, all fun. The Toy Center distinguishes itself with a huge book selection for infants and children and it recently launched Storytime for kids. Owner Mary Mollen does the reading, focusing on one author a week. Toys that Teach corners the educational market, but if you think such toys are no fun, well, you haven’t given the gift of a live butterfly garden or a supersonic rocket kit.

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