Leslie and Greg Gauthier with the store’s mascot Baxter at Village Toy Shoppe in New Hope
As the town of New Hope adorns the historic streets with the twinkling lights and cheer of Christmas, the Village Toy Shoppe of New Hope has settled into its new location at 19 N. Main Street.
A sense of wonderment that is so often missing in the modern era of video games and online shopping overcomes visitors young and old. The hundreds of toys lining the shelves somehow convey over fifty years of magical memories. Decades have gone by but the memories are stronger than ever as a third-generation of shoppers, fondly remembering their own visits so many years ago, share the joy of a trip to the Village Toy Shoppe with their grandchildren.
Laughter comes easily to children as they discover a huge variety of traditional and modern toys including Magna-Tile sets, cuddly toys, dolls, train sets and the cheeky Selfie Elfie. Parents are transported back to happy, simpler time with their families, regaining a beloved connection to their past. This is the type of toy store that lives vividly in our memories. In fact, executives from some of the most famous family-focused brands have even visited in the past, hoping to catch a bit of inspiration that is so deeply rooted at the store.
“Selfie Elfie” at Village Toy Shoppe in New Hope
Upon entering the shop, children are greeted by the friendly store mascot, Baxter the golden retriever, and eagerly hop scotch over to the counter atop a playful mat where the friendly faces of owners Greg & Leslie Gauthier often await. In this bustling holiday season, the Village Toy Shoppe owners have great customer service and value in mind and are excited to offer their expertise in helping to pick the perfect toy for children of all ages.
For more mature toy enthusiasts, the Village Toy Shoppe is running a Collectibles Room every weekend over the holiday period featuring collectible toys including trains; dolls; Steiff, Britains and Breyer horses; and many one of a kind designer products. This is being held weekends only in Suite #1 of the Four Season’s Mall, across the street from the Logan Inn.
The Village Toy Shoppe has been an area staple for half a century and in the same family for over 30 years. Previously located in Peddler’s Village, the store is now owned by Leslie Gauthier who has lived a life surrounded by toys. In the 1960s Gauthier’s entrepreneurial mother, Doris Thompson, started her own business designing and selling toy mice and swiftly grew the business to impressive proportions.
Owner Leslie and Chiquita Banana the mouse
When the opportunity to purchase a store arose, she leapt at the chance. Leslie grew up helping her mother with the business and developed an abiding love of toys and children’s entertainment. She spent the last decade working closely with her Mother from a distance and became more knowledgeable in running a traditional toy store.
Two years ago Leslie and Greg Gauthier returned to New Hope from Canada to be closer to family and to apply their considerable combined business knowledge to take over the running of the family business. Now retired from business, Doris still remains involved through visits and is regularly sought out by people who remember her toy mice and call in to reminisce and even get an autograph from the matriarch of the business which at one point employed 50 women sewing the mice for The Little Mouse Factory.
Years of experience and passion are behind the scenes of the fun filled retail space which boasts a vast array of traditional and modern toys including antiques and collectible items. The husband wife team avoid electronic toys feeling that these do not fit in with their vision and Gauthier personally picks every item for sale in the traditional toy shoppe focusing particularly on toys which provide education and fun.
In 2014, the Gauthiers made a strategic decision to move their store into the center of New Hope, a community deep-rooted in family values and entertainment. Gauthier said they are excited about their move and praised the wonderful neighbors and local businesses. They make a point to support locals, from award winning local children’s authors, to featuring locally developed toys and hosting events supporting local animal welfare groups. They even have custom Melissa and Doug New Hope and Lambertville wooden school buses and Melissa and Doug New Hope train engineer outfits in stock in the store. Holiday cheer and value is spread with a store discount for locals and a discount to eat at Triumph Brewery with a Village Toy Shoppe receipt.
Custom Melissa & Doug New Hope and Lambertville school busses
The store itself is a microcosm of a larger family entertainment vision that Leslie & Greg are working to accomplish locally alongside active organizations like the Greater Lambertville – New Hope Chamber of Commerce. They have innovative plans for the Village Toy Shoppe of New Hope and other family entertainment businesses, which include community-based events like art, craft, and reading programs. As part of their future endeavors contributing to the family-friendly atmosphere of the river towns, Leslie & Greg have formally expressed interest this fall in re-opening the Historical Mule Barge ride along the picturesque canal in New Hope. They are also in the initial stages of investigating a family entertainment center with a classic carousel.
Rooted in their life-long passion for family entertainment, decades of experience, and a location with so many wonderful opportunities to serve the families of locals and visitors alike, Leslie & Greg are happy to call themselves part of the New Hope community for the long haul.
Follow the Village Toy Shoppe on Facebook for their latest updates.
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