Marvin’s Toy is a welcomed addition to downtown Crystal Lake. It is a small toy store serving a big need. We found that although it is a new store, it was an idea that the owner had been formulating for years. We recently sat down with the owner Lori McConville to find out more about her business.
What made you decide to open a toy store.
I am an educator at heart, but I’ve always had a passion for the environment. As a teacher and an advocate for the natural world, I was hearing that families wanted quality toys that were made with a sensitivity to the environment and encouraged children to use their imaginations. When I looked around that need was not being met.
I am intrigued by the name, why did you chose to name the store Marvin’s?
Well, Marvin is a plush elephant puppet that I had in my classroom when I taught kindergarten. He helped the kids learn about their first experience in school and how to make friends. We sang songs together and learned how to share and play games. I also had an imaginary elephant as a friend when I was little, so to me an elephant is a symbol of my imagination. Plus, elephants are compassionate creatures that are very family oriented. All those things together made Marvin, the elephant, a perfect fit for the store.
I understand this is a family business.
Yes, this store is a family experience for sure. My daughter, Katelyn, and I are running the business together. She is a young mom with two children herself. She wants her children to learn as they play, be engaged and, most importantly have fun. Many of the products we carry in our store, are the very ones that Katelyn researched on line and traveled to find because there wasn’t a local store to visit near our home. When we get a new toy for the store, we put it to the test by asking my grandkids what they think. Having a boy and girl, 8 year old Riley and 7 year old Kayla, helps because we get both sides of the story. So in a sense we have three generations involved.
Tell me a little more about the toys you sell at Marvin’s.
After quality and safety, all of the toys are chosen to encourage imaginative and creative play. What’s different about us is that we look at the whole life cycle of the toy. We know how the toys are made, who makes them and where and what materials are used. We like toys made from natural materials so they have a good long life and can be cherished for generations. We strive to carry toys that are good for the earth and the mind.
What can people expect to find when they come to Marvin’s?
Most importantly we want our customers to come and enjoy shopping for their children. We offer a personalized and relaxed shopping experience, and we help our customers choose a toy that is particular to their child’s personality and development. Our store is a place that encourages our customers, and the kids as well, to touch and feel the quality and fun.
What other services does Marvin’s offer?
We do complimentary gift wrapping and we can put together wish lists too. The kids love shopping in our little store and getting some special attention. We will even hold a birthday selection for 30 days so it’s certain that that special gift is available. We will open early or late if we have a customer who needs to shop at a special time, and we can take a phone call and have a birthday gift ready for quick pick-up.
Are you worried about competing against the big box stores?
No, not at all. What we offer in our store is not what you can get in those bigger stores. There are many toy companies that cater to the small independent toy store that can offer knowledge and experience about their product and show appreciation for the very serious work of child’s play. They are the companies we deal with. A large store simply cannot offer that, but we certainly want to, and we enjoy those good conversations with our customers.
What are some of your biggest sellers right now?
Of course the Rainbow Loom is big right now, and next I would say wooden toys. We sell a lot of games for families and plenty of dress up items such as hero capes and fairy wings as well. The kids really like “Green Toys,” a plastic line of cars, trucks, tea sets and such that are made from recycled milk jugs right here in the USA. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty (also USA made) which is like Silly Putty, but a whole lot better, has been a big hit with teenagers. And we have building toys for kids from one to whatever. Some favorites are Magna Tiles, Citiblocs and Metal Works. Three dimensional building is a great exercise for the learning mind that is good for all ages, one to 99. At Marvin’s there is something for the child in all of us.
Marvin’s Toy Store
64 N. Williams St.
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Sun. 11 am – 3 pm
Mon., Tues., Wed. 10 am – 6 pm
Thurs. 10am – 8 pm
Fri. and Sat. 10 am – 6 pm