Toy Joy Remains Austin’s Toy Store After 26 Years
BookPeople, The Alamo Drafthouse, Threadgill’s, Scholz Garten – there are some places that are just quintessentially “Austin,” where you find locals and tourists alike appreciating what makes this city unique. Toy Joy, where you’re just as likely to see adults trying out gizmos and games as you are children, is one of those places.
Toy Joy was founded in 1987, originally “created to source meaningful, thought-provoking children's toys, and has evolved along with the city to cater to children of all ages,” said Lizzy Newsome, Toy Joy co-owner and toy curator.
Over the years the toy selection has changed. Although you’re still able to find classic board games and jacks, the store also stocks plenty of gag gifts, like the pregnant lady keychain, as well as unique toys like Rody, an inflatable, rideable horse.
“Curating the selection at Toy Joy is part expectation and part innovation,” Newsome said of balancing the classic with the unique. “We definitely work hard to be a toy store for all ages.”
That uniqueness is what draws Austinite Jesse Moritz to the store.
“It just has a lot of personality; you never know what you’re going to find,” Moritz said, holding his find of the day – a mustache-themed wall clock.
For those who just can’t get enough of Toy Joy’s wares, the store recently started doing toy subscriptions, which work like magazine subscriptions where you pay a fee and a new toy is sent to your house every month.
The store has also succeeded in making itself a tourist destination. Sometimes tourists will visit the store more than once in a single trip, Newsome said, adding that “in a city this awesome, tourists are always looking for fun things to do, but the ones who don't find us online are often sent to Toy Joy by helpful locals.”
As a member of the Austin Independent Business Alliance and the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Toy Joy is an advocate of shopping local.
“Austin is unique because of its local businesses, and that is why so many weird and wonderful shops and restaurants exist today,” Newsome said. “It is important to remember your favorite local businesses if you want to keep Austin special.”
That feeling of community extends within the store as well, said Emmet Duff, who’s worked at Toy Joy for two-and-a-half years.
“I’ve stayed so long because of the environment – it’s so positive and happy and supportive,” Duff said. “Everyone associated with the store is amazing, and some of the other employees have become some of my best friends.”
So, what next for Toy Joy? Newsome said there are many plans for the future, but “most of them are secret!”
Well, I know a place you can get a good spy kit…