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A new toy store on Foster Road is catching the eye of kids and their parents. Our correspondent visited, and reports here

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Jillian Sevick, co-owner of Hammer and Jacks toy store, believes toys are childrens first language. We love any opportunity to talk about toys, developmental ages, and stages, she says. Shown from left: Jillian (who recently broke her foot), with c-owner Andrew - and her daughters Mavis and Beyla.  Ann Marentette, a Reed neighborhood resident, likes to do jigsaw puzzles with her grandchildren when they visit from New York. A month ago, she told THE BEE she was delighted to find a 500-piece "glow-in-the-dark" dyno puzzle at "Hammer and Jacks" toy store, on Foster Road at S.E. 64th Avenue.

"I didn't even know there was a toy store there. Bill and I sometimes buy bagels at 'Higgins' nearby, but we hadn't noticed this store." She later learned that after five years in business, the store recently moved over one lot to the west, and is now more visible in the spot where Red Castle Games used to be – before it re-located up Foster Road to 72nd.

"I was impressed with how organized it is, and I was intrigued with the high quality and variety of things they have," commented Marentette, who had seen the Mud Puppy dyno jigsaw puzzle mentioned in the "best gifts for kids" section of "The Strategist", in the New York Times Magazine.

While browsing this well-organized, very spacious store – in which Air Scrubbers were installed during the COVID-19 pandemic – she found the number of educational and creative toys to be striking: Puzzles, games, books, scooters, arts and crafts, unusual birthday decorations, three-inch colorful classic cars, musical instruments (small electric guitar, ukulele, cymbals), and over a hundred colors of balloons displayed in fish bowl jars, are just a few of the things they offer.

Jillian Sevick, co-owner of the store, is a self-described "toy enthusiast and nerd"; she commented, "We order from small to mid-sized companies. Some [items] are made in Australia, and some are designed in the U.K.; both countries have toys you don't see everywhere. That makes it more fun and magical." Sevick's 4-1/2 and 7 year-old daughters are frequently in the store after school engaging people about the toys.

A "Wobble Cushion", for chair or floor use, can help improve focus and calm fidgeting of very active children, we were told. Mojo Animals – dinosaurs, dragons, safari and ocean animals – are presented as durable and stimulating toys for young imaginations.

Magnetic building tiles, creative bathtub toys and a selection of diverse baby dolls are for the very young. Journals for "gratitude writing" and exploring the outdoors are for older children. Packets of 40 cards for mindfulness or "bedtime calming", and a chef's cooking set, are for any age – as are many of the other items in this unusual toy store. "Pre-pandemic we also operated a play and party space! We hope to get back to that again very soon," remarked Sevick. During the peak of the pandemic, back when the store was closed to the public, her family started no-contact delivery of toys, balloons, and party supplies in her little red van. They still deliver within a ten-mile radius of the shop. On weekends, art and baking classes are taught in an ample space toward the rear of the store; participants are booked in advance online – www.hammerandjacks.com – which is also where many of their available toys are offered, including sale merchandise. For more information, call 503/894-9150.


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