The secret of Brookside Toy & Science’s endurance.
December is the most wonderfully busy time of the year for Jim and Mary Jo Ward of Brookside Toy & Science. The Wards have owned the shop since 1995. They took over from Jim’s mother, Donna, who bought the store in 1964.
Jim got his start in the business at age 11. He would sell toys and models and help in the science department. Mary Jo joined the shop in the late 70s as a buyer and manager, after they married. “She’s absolutely essential,” Jim said.
In a day when independent toy stores are the exception, what’s allowed Brookside Toy & Science to endure? “I think it all revolves around providing a unique experience to our clientele,” Jim said. “We have quite an eclectic selection of merchandise.”
Customer service is key, too. The staff is knowledgeable about their products, and gift wrapping is complimentary. “Customers can feel confident their gifts will be home runs,” Jim said.
This time of year, former Kansas Citians who are visiting make a point of bringing their own children and grandchildren to the shop. “They want to show their kids what a real toy store looks like.”