The Green Alligator: Fighting for your child’s soul in the toy aisle

28 Jan

If you’ve wandered the toy aisles at Target or Wal-Mart recently, it’s hard not to wonder where all the real toys have gone.

Aside from the occasional Slinky or Lego set, the shelves are dominated by long rows of products that are more movie tie-in than toy, and less about encouraging self-expression and curiosity than about getting kids to see themselves as a stereotype (present choices limited to fashionista, girly girl princess, skater dude, or revenge-crazed warrior). Whatever space isn’t given over to scowling BRATZ dolls or tiara-clad pampered pooches is assigned to overpriced “interactive” electronic toys that bleep, light up, talk in digitized voices, and make endlessly repetitive motions that we’re pretty sure encourage sensory overload and/or OCD.

That’s why a classic toy store like The Green Alligator is so refreshing.  As the store’s own website affirms, this super high-service shop is full of “carefully selected, well-made, safe products that capture the imagination, encourage growth, teach important concepts, and most of all, offer endless hours of fun.”

Owner Sandi White; photo credit: Jacksonville.com

The Avondale store is a pocket-sized toy Utopia, with expansive display windows, cheery green-striped awnings and a life-sized Playmobil toy pirate standing sentinel at the door. There’s a “Please Touch” vibe that encourages kids to tool around on the awesome Plasma Cars, take balls out to the sidewalk for a test bounce, and ask questions about which chemistry kit makes the best green slime. The selection is thoughtful and beautifully displayed, with toys that encourage active play,  as well as arts and crafts projects, puppets, puzzles and brain teasers, science and construction kits, musical toys, cute critter and Ugly Dolls, and even old-fashioned baby dolls (you know, the ones that look like real babies as opposed to future Hooters waitresses).

The GreenAlligator staff really knows their stock, too; they keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s popular with kids of all ages and offer excellent advice on which toys are appropriate for various age groups. Even better, neighborhood children are invited to make wish lists, which the store keeps on file to help harried parents trying to buy those last-minute birthday party gifts. (Note to moms: All purchases go into cute Green Alligator bags that are stuffed with brightly colored paper and tied with curly ribbon, eliminating the need for giftwrap when you’re already running late.)

photo credit: The Green Alligator

In a toy world that’s clearly lost its marbles (anyone think Pole-dancing Polly is even remotely appropriate?!?), it’s nice to know that places like The Green Alligator can resist the Disney marketing juggernaut and still flourish. If you’re looking for toys that encourage kids to learn new ideas, learn how to share, and just plain learn how to focus, then this charming store has exactly what you need.

The Green Alligator is located right next to the Brick Restaurant, at 3581 St. Johns Avenue in the Shoppes of Avondale. (A second store is now open in Ponte Vedra, at 330 North A1A.)

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3 Responses to “The Green Alligator: Fighting for your child’s soul in the toy aisle”

  1. MrsScalEWag January 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    My family & I L-O-V-E this store!! The biggest kids (my husband & I) go in sans children all of the time because the toys they carry are so much fun & bring back such wonderful memories. Keep up the great work Green Alligator! Do they have a FB page? I have a pic I can post to it.. 🙂

  2. letsgolo January 29, 2011 at 1:44 am #

    Yes, the store does have a FB page (lots of cute videos on it, too!). You can find it at http://www.facebook.com/TheGreenAlligator.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Buy A Alligators Kids Shirt - January 31, 2011

    […] The Green Alligator: Fighting for your child's soul in the toy … Even better, neighborhood children are invited to make wish lists, which the store keeps on file to help harried parents trying to buy those last-minute birthday party gifts. it's nice to know that places like The Green Alligator can resist the Disney marketing juggernaut and still flourish. If you're looking for toys that encourage kids to learn new ideas, learn how to share, and just plain learn how to focus, then this charming store has exactly what you need. […]

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