Carol Staley said she realized the value of toys in the five years she was the director of a preschool.
“It was a play-based preschool,” Staley said. “I really saw the results of play and how important it is to children, their education and their emotional IQ. Once I saw the importance of toys and how valuable they were, all the more I wanted to have a toy store.”
Drawing on that experience and time as a toy and book sales representative, Staley and her husband leased a storefront in Meyerland four years ago to open Tomfoolery.
Most of the books and toys on its shelves are hand-picked by Staley herself.
“We are highly curated in what we carry in the store, so if you come to shop with us, then I try to make sure it’s the best of the best,” Staley said. “I don’t carry anything in the store that I wouldn’t have bought for my own children.”
Staley said the best toys have the highest “play value,” which she defined in part by their ability to capture the attention of children long after the age recommendation expires.
“We have a few 1-year-old toys that are great for a 1-year-old that they’re going to enjoy playing with and find new ways to play with to 18 months and even at 2,” Staley said. “We have one particular one-year toy in the store that we even catch adults playing with. I sometimes think the adults buy it because they enjoy playing with it so much.”
Among the storybooks, puzzles, dolls and knickknacks within Tomfoolery are toys spanning decades of toy manufacturing, from classic mainstays, such as the yo-yo and spinning top, to new fads like the fidget spinner.
All of these toys and the play they create have positive and educational value for children, Staley said.
“A lot of the time, adults want educational toys for their children, and I say to them that almost every toy is educational for their child,” Staley said. “They have to use their brain. They have to use their imaginations. They have to manipulate it. Anything that a child will play with, even if it’s a plastic bowl and some balls, there’s value in it, and there’s an educational component to it.”
Tomfoolery Toys & Books
4844 Beechnut St., Houston
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thu. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.