The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

November 30, 2013

Local shop offers American-made fun

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing writer
The Daily Star

---- — Shoppers looking for toys that stimulate the imagination are in luck as Monkey Barrel Toys in downtown Oneonta delivers just that.

The toy store, located at 216 Main St., in the Main Street mini mall, offers imagination-driven toys that have been tested by the owners and their children.

“We are a small store and our inventory is specific,” said Kwan Chan-House, co-owner of Monkey Barrel Toys. “All of our toys are imagination driven — they require some degree of pretend. Most of these toys have been ‘tested’ by our two boys.”

In addition to the criteria that the toys should stimulate the imagination of children, many of the toys sold at Monkey Barrel Toys are made in the United States.

“We looked at bringing in Lincoln Logs, but they are made in China now, so we decided to carry Wood Links, a similar design but made by the company Roy Toy in Maine,” said Kristian House, co-owner of Monkey Barrel Toys. “We try to carry responsible toys. Our Uncle Goose toys, made by Green Toy Company, for example — their toys are made from 100 percent recycled milk jugs.”

Monkey Barrel Toys opened at the end of October in 2013. They have celebrated a good first year. The owners said they feel the support of the community every day.

“We opened this store because we felt there was a need for a good toys store in Oneonta,” Kristian House said. “When we would get invited to birthday parties, we would see the same toys. Parents shop at Green Toad or Theresa’s Emporium, and they have good things, but there were only so many choices. We would try to remember to shop for toys when we were in Binghamton, but if we forgot, there was always Walmart. We wanted to give people another choice to give a responsible gift.”

Monkey Barrel Toys has a Facebook page, but as of now no Website, although the idea has been discussed.

“We feel like we can keep in touch with our customers through Facebook,” Kristian House said. “The information we post on Facebook goes right to the news feed and people see it without really looking for it. It is different with a Website, people have to seek out the information. Facebook works better because when we post our hours or something special we are doing, it goes out to all of our friends. We have talked about a Website, it would be beneficial to those people traveling to Oneonta.”

Monkey Barrel Toys currently has more than 200 ‘likes’ on Facebook. As with many business, the owners covet the ‘likes’ as a way of measuring their success. They use the site to promote the toys, and to inform customers and friends when they may be closed or opened longer hours.

Monkey Barrel Toys, along with many other small businesses in the area, participate “Small Business Saturday,” a push to support small businesses on the Saturday after Black Friday.