Monday, December 19, 2011

Kid's Center, Tucson - the Anti-Big-Box

Every time I come to Tucson, which is at least once or twice a year, I discover a new treasure. Sometimes, I re-discover a place I've known about since I was a teenager growing up here. A place I've loved, not since I was young, but since my son was a toddler, is called Kid's Center. This is a magical little toy store where we used to go to get parts for his Brio train set. Now, I guess, you can get them at Target, maybe even Walmart, but they used to be found only at higher-end toy shops because they were high-quality wooden trains and tracks from Sweden; these days, the company seems to have gone mega-corporate.

Anyway, I hesitate to mention those two evil big-box stores, Walmart and Target, because they don't belong anywhere near a sincerity blog. Especially when this particular blog post is about is about one of the most charming, sincere, mom and pop stores I know of in Tucson. I stopped by there today, six days before Christmas, to look for things that were on my niece and nephew's Christmas lists. I remember the year I did go to Target in Queens, NY to find things on their lists, and came out nearly sobbing with frustration and disgust. I've never set foot in one again. What a different experience today! I called ahead to find out if they had Sea-Monkeys and Art Kits, which of course they did, and not only was each item well under twenty bucks, but the art kit was %20 off today only. The lady in the store guided me to the higher quality kits, still only $16, and then I had fun picking out adorable and unique stocking stuffers that you wouldn't find anywhere else.

At Kid's Center they gift wrap for free, their toys are mostly educational or at least well-made, and the ladies who work there know exactly what they have and for which age kids, and are super-friendly. They also have a great selection of children's books. As I breezed by Walmart on my way home from successfully accomplishing my Christmas shopping for the kids, I stuck my tongue out at it and all the suckers slogging their way through that made-in-China, small town-killing nightmare. Do yourselves a favor people, find those sincere, local gems in your own towns and give them a chance again.

Kid's Center
1725 N. Swan Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85712

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