By Natalie Shaver
Logan Square is a neighborhood in Chicago full of local businesses that help and give back to the community.
Ann Kienzle, owner of the toy store Play in Logan Square, said that she believes it is important for businesses to be a part of a community rather than just in one. Kienzle also said that local businesses give back to the community.
“The local businesses are what holds up the community and make it unique and special,” Kienzle said, “What are the neighborhoods without the cool funky shops that they have?”
Kienzle said that she believes that local businesses serve the community better. Independent businesses have the chance to sell a more focused selection of products because they know what the community is interested in, she said.
“We also do things to give back,” Kienzle said, “We have a huge amount of donation requests all the time, and so we’re able to really be a part of the community.”
Kienzle said that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 is returned to the community.
Kienzle said that the toy store has become a community within itself. Kienzle and Stacey Heck, a Play employee, try to know the names of their customers and develop special bonds with them.
“We have really made the connection, and the neighborhood has been so supportive,” said Kienzle, “We really have a lot of regular customers and we know their kids.”
Play hosts activities like story time and yoga for children. Even when there is no event planned, children can be seen testing out the various unique toys in the store.
“I like to have them like sit with me and open the flip books,” Heck said, “They feel like they are doing something.”
Play focuses on educational toys that help children fundamentally develop and grow. Kienzle said that toys from Play are unique and help bring out the creativity in children.
“I’m a believer that every toy has some type of educational value to it,” Kienzle said, “You are always learning when you are a child.”
Play also sells some environmentally friendly toys. The toys are made from recycled milk jugs and reclaimed fired wood as well as other green materials.
“We love green toys which are made in the USA that are hard to find.”
Toys from Play are what children want, said Kienzle. She said she looks for unique toys that separate her store from commercial businesses.
“I go to extremes to find things that are different that you can’t find anywhere else,” Kienzle said, “So when you come here it is a good experience. “
The store sells toys that appeal to children from birth to 10-years-old. Kienzle said the Logan Square neighborhood has a lot of children under four so the toys that appeal to that age group sell the most.
Although the majority of Play’s crowd are small children, that doesn’t mean that other people do not find a toy for themselves. Play has a variety of vintage toys that some adults may have played with when they were children.
“We have plenty of people walk out with purchases just for them, not for any child in their life,” Kienzle said.
Play is located at 3109 West Logan Blvd.