Mother and former middle school teacher Jenny Kuten said she took ownership of Learning Express in The Woodlands in July to be involved in the community in a kid-friendly environment.

“I think as a franchise we just want kids to be kids and not have to feel like they have to be in front of a screen,” Kuten said. “There's so many new toys out there, and the great thing about Learning Express is we get unique toys that other stores do not.”

Learning Express is a retail franchise featuring toys, books, games, personalized gifts and children's accessories.

How it happened

Kuten said the opportunity to own the store came about on her daughter's fifth birthday when they went shopping for some birthday gifts. After realizing the franchise location was for sale, Kuten noted the shop was the outlet she was looking for to get back into the workforce.

“It was purely a matter of being at the right place at the right time,” Kuten said.

With her husband David Kuten’s support and silent partnership, Kuten acquired the store once both her daughters were attending school full time.

“I’d never thought that this was going to be a path for me, but it’s been a very natural transition,” Kuten said.

The details

Kuten said The Woodlands shop offers customers an interactive shopping experience with its experienced staff.

“When you come here, it's like you always have a personal shopper," she said. "If you want one, you always have someone there."

Kuten said many of the store employees have been at the shop for a long time, and she is looking to expand her staff.

“Many of them have been here for a long time and for good reason. It's a great place to work, it's fun, and we all have such a good time here at the toy store. It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're surrounded by toys,” she said.

Learning Express caters to children of all ages from babies to 11 years old and up with a wide variety of toys, such as collectibles, puzzles and games. Popular items include slime, Squishmallows and Legos.

The toy store provides toys and games that help children build motor, verbal, social and emotional skills. With games that center around cooperative learning, its merchandise helps kids build a connection with others while having fun, Kuten said.

The shop also offers free gift wrapping and has plans to provide free delivery services to local residencies in the near future. Other services offered include birthday baskets or birthday registries where kids can pick items from the store to place on a birthday registry created for their party guests.

“When people come here, I think they know that they're getting something different and unique that will spark interest in their kid,” Kuten said.