Right now is when most toy stores, The Big Ones That Hate You And Just Want Your Money and the Independant Toy Stores that CARE and Stuggle to Survive 10 months of the year, have their Summer Clearance sales. July is a great time to get Xmas shopping done.
The smaller stores don’t carry the commercialized crapola. I like that. You should too.
Chinaberry Mostly books for infants up to teens, with a smattering for adults. Games and things. I highly recommend Jim Weiss Audio cds. Classic Stories for kids and adults. I have a handful of them and the kids (5 & 7, one of each, respectively.) love Galileo and the Stargazers band name! because they learn not about the men who were geniuses in their day and helped make astronomy what it is today by their observations, but because Tycho Brahe had his nose cut off in a sword fight. They think that is a riot. You can get them out of your library system. They are very popular with homeschoolers and libraries. You won’t find him much anywhere else. I luffs Chinaberry…they changed everything I am about parenting. Y’know: Turn off the TV and Get Involved. Stuff that I probably woulda figured out on my own but…hey, I get a catalog 4-5 times a year, so YAY!
Magic Cabin Has alot of great stuff, though it does seem to be more girlish, but I love them and their catalog. ( The artwork in the catalog is sooo cute that I cute it all up and use the pictures for artwork for the kids to glue onto construction paper. )
Live and Learn has some great stuff, but I find their site hard to navigate. I have never ordered from them.
Toy Knights is the place to go if you need to indulge your inner Medieval warlord or Viking Dude, Blood Thirsty Pirate, Robin Hood or the Musketeers. Whatever is your kiddie fantasy, they’ll have something for it. Out farking standing selection. I’ve talked to them ( (I think it is family owned) many a times and extremely personable service.
Spilsbury Has some great stuff, great site and very good selection.
Don’t underestimate the power of art supplies Dick Blick is a great resource for good stuff at reasonable prices! I use the regular paint tubes ( watercolor or acrlyic) for my kids stuff because it works better than the cheapie ones ($2 and under) available at all stores. A basic starter set is about $10 for either water or acrylic. (One of dads old dress shirts or one picked up at the Salvation Army is the perfect smock.)
If he likes trains ( Thomas the Tank Engine Rocks!) this site has good prices: Thomas is one the best toys for boys ( and girls.IMHO. Though at 5, he is on the cusp of Pokemon and Yugioh, evil, evil things that cannot be avoided, like puberty. My son goes both ways: he likes pokemon and thomas and he’s 7.
A dress up box and some puppets are always something fun.
The doper Macaroni & Schmeese owns a toy store, you might want to email her to get some thoughts.
Also, I beleive, YMMV, that it is imperative to KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Kids will always gravitate toward empty boxes, crayons, slinkies, blocks and the like. Stuff like that inspires creativity.
I could write all day about stuff like this, but I have to go beat my children now into the bathtub and pack for camping tomorrow! [size=1] and it’s spose to be humid as all hell and rain Oh.Joy!)