Q: So what is Island Treasure Toys?

A: Island Treasure Toys started nine years ago. We were an online store and we worked out of our home. After a year, we moved into a little brick-and-mortar shop on Main Street in Yarmouth. A year and a half ago we moved up to Route 1. It is a much bigger store, much wider variety of offerings. People come in and say, “It’s so different in here. You have such nice toys.”

Q: How did you get started in the business?

A: We have three adult children now, who were teens at the time, and a daughter, who at the time was 3 years old. We had a hard time finding good quality toys for her. We wanted toys that let her use her imagination. We wanted good old- fashioned toys. We were shopping for her online. All of a sudden I just said to Jim, “Why don’t we start a store?” Jim said, “Sure,” and three months later, there was a website and an order came in.

Q: Why the focus on wooden and natural toys?

A: That was more in the beginning. There wasn’t an outlet for that. Early on there was a need. If you recall, back in 2006 or 2007, there were a ton of toy recalls because of the lead paint. At that time, we were selling the right toy at the right time in the right place. People didn’t want to buy anything made in China. So now, you’ll find a variety here. We don’t have just wooden or natural toys. We have very carefully planned purchases of all toys. 

Q: What is the most popular toy you sell?

A: Right now Silly Bandz. I found them back in January. I’m really trying hard to zone in on toys for 8- to 12-year-olds. I was thinking these were so cool. Of course when I came home and the order came in, my husband said “What is this?” It was slow moving at first, but now I can’t keep them in stock. So, when I get them I have to Twitter and Facebook. 

Q: So you’re working the social media outlets?

A: Yes. Island Treasure Toys is on Twitter at twitter.com/islandtoys and we have a Facebook page. When you’re getting 100 phone calls asking if something is in stock, I felt like that was the best way to do it. We just got a shipment, which will be gone by the end of the day. 

Q: I understand you donated toys and clothing to five at-risk children who were recently placed in foster care. What prompted you to do that for these children?

A: We love children, obviously; we have four of our own. Life wasn’t always easy for me. There was a time when I was really down on my luck with three children, and many people reached out to me. This is our way of giving back. We have a connection with Woodfords Family Services. They get children who go into foster care and we help those children. We give what they might need — a stuffed animal, a book, a toy or a game. The five children that went into foster care were in real need. For the first time, I got a thank-you letter from the foster family. It was a full page typed out and I just cried. It really does touch someone. It was so nice to get something from the family wondering why strangers would help them. It was just beautiful. This is why we’re doing this. One of the things we did to help the community and help ourselves, last year when things were so bad. I wondered, “How can we help this community and help ourselves?” So we decided to have a children’s clothing, consignment department. That way people could recycle children’s clothes and we’re putting money in the hands of the community. It took off like fire. 

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: It’s the whole package. From the moment somebody that walks in the door. We know most everybody by their first name and we know their children. Knowing that people are leaving with something different, that they’re buying a quality toy, something we stand behind, and they got something unusual. It’s a really cool place. 

Q: What are your hours of operation?

A: We’re open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Q: Any new items coming to your shelves for the summer?

A: I have my classics. Then we also have the Pumponator. It’s a little pump that is filled with water balloons, which you take out when you get it. Then you fill the pump with water. You pump it five times and it fills your balloon with water. It keeps the kids out of the kitchen and bathroom sink trying to fill their water balloons.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]