the TOY BOX story: how it all began
The TOY BOX was born in late 2003. Owner Liz Rosenberg had been managing Lots for Littles for two years, the toy store that stood in that very spot, and when the opportunity arose for her to purchase the business, she leaped! A few years later the store expanded to twice its original size, expanding its product selection to include lots of gift and hard-to-find items as well as toys and games for older kids and adults.
Liz has not always been involved in the toy industry, however. Earlier she worked in basketball marketing at Spalding Sports Worldwide in Chicopee and joyfully got involved in the return of the iconic Spaldeen pink rubber ball after its 25 year hiatus. Having grown up in NYC, the birthplace of the Spaldeen's fame and where it earned its Brooklyn vernacular name, Liz had a personal connection to the ball. Playing games like "stoopball", "hit the penny", "A, My Name is Alice", and of course, "Stickball" where base hits were measured in 100 yard length of sewer covers, Liz was passionate about spreading its fabulous wealth. Go ahead, ask her anything about the Spaldeen and she will give you an earful! And before Spalding, Liz was busy earning a Master's Degree in Planetary Geology from UMass, the impetus for her moving to Amherst in 1993. So, go ahead, ask her anything about the structural geology of the northern hemisphere of Venus and she'll give you another earful!
Liz left Spalding at the end of 2000 when her first daughter was born in the middle of classic New England snowstorm. And one day, when her daughter was about 8 months old, Liz happened upon Lots for Littles in search of a birthday gift for her 5 year old niece. Much to her surprise, she noticed the store carried the Pensy Pinky, the historical competitor ball to the Spaldeen. Nooooooooo! It couldn't be!! And then it began ... the in depth conversation about the Spaldeen versus the Pensy Pinky and what made the Spaldeen superior and so on and so forth. Later that afternoon, the owner of that toy store offered the manager position to Liz, based solely on the details of that conversation and the passion with which it transpired. So see .... it is all because of the Spaldeen, and growing up in NY, and being passionate about quality products, that the TOY BOX exists.
A long time Amherst resident now, Liz has two grown daughters (one of them is even studying geology) and continues her quest to bring quality toys, games, and some wacky gifts to the greater community. The idea of connecting with her community through sharing and teaching about toys, and children's play, and creativity, and imagination is what keeps her here, and The TOY BOX going strong in the wonderful Amherst community. As this is being written, we are in the middle of a global pandemic .... and the gift of sharing something that promotes family, and togetherness, is educational and fun, brings joy to children and grownups alike, well that helps extinguish fears and makes for a better world, better community, and just plain feels right. There is a whole lot of pride within the walls of the TOY BOX, and a ton of gratefulness to the greater Amherst community for the continued opportunity to keep you well supplied with quality toys and well connected with each other.
And now you know why you will ALWAYS find both Spaldeens and a quality selection of rocks at the TOY BOX ; )
photo credit: Isabella Dellolio Photography