Some of the most cherished memories from childhood come from those bright, shiny new toys that behold a certain amount of wonder and mystery to them. The excitement shown through a child’s expression when first discovering something they’ve never seen or knew existed is unmatched. Each of us can remember that one thing that, to this day, brightens up our faces as we remember the look, feel, and sound of it. And each of us who have experienced that type of wonderment in our lives want to make sure every other child out there can experience that same feeling: sheer, unabashed joy.
beloved neighborhood toy store is alive and well in the Elmwood Village. And
about a block away, there is an equally exquisite candy shop. Both emanate the
kind of excitement and wonder kids and adults alike can take delight in. And
that’s just it -TreeHouse Toy Store and Can Can Candy make for a truly
rented the space next door to the original Kuni’s on Elmwood Avenue in 1996.
Funny thing was, they didn’t know what they were going to do with this space
when they signed on the dotted line. Until, that is, one day they were walking
up and down Elmwood and realized that amongst all of the boutiques and shops on
the bustling strip, there were no shops that catered to kids, and specifically found
there to be no toy stores. It was then they decided their space would fill this
need for the area. They opened the TreeHouse Toy Store on November 4 of that
year, and their first sale was a red balloon. In 2000, the store moved to its
current location on the northeast corner of Elmwood and Auburn, where they’ve
enjoyed much success as the only shop of its kind in the neighborhood.
According to David, “Everything that’s not in the big retailers is here.”
importantly, you can find gifts that are both on trend and current with today’s
kids, and yet unique at the same time. In fact, the whole store is unique, so
why would their products be any different?
doesn’t play at the TreeHouse,” David joked, which got a good laugh from
wide variety of products–which they do–but they also offer plenty of products
that are socially responsible, made from organic or recycled materials. It’s a
refreshing change from seeing the insane amount of pink and yellow plastic that
seems to spill out of chain retailers that shall remain unnamed. That’s not to
say these toys look any less appealing than any sort of “new” item. Quite the
contrary – my eye wandered over to these toys before I even knew what they were
or that they were made and packaged from the recycled material David was
talking about. Eco-friendly, visually appealing AND stimulating to a child?
Yes, please. In fact, I’ll take two.
an incredible countertop filled to the brim with smaller toys, gizmos and
gadgets that would make anyone–and certainly any child–gaze longingly at all
that lays before you. If nothing else, your eyes won’t know what to look at
first. Ranging from Whamo™ super balls, charms, smelly pens, gourmet scented
pencils, mood rings, assorted Snap Caps™, Smurfs™ (yes, Smurfs!), and tons
more, you can purchase a bunch of these smaller items to make one larger gift,
fill someone’s stocking, or add an item or two as present toppers to a larger
purchase. The countertop items are only a few bucks each, and the possibilities
for fun are endless.
are making a huge comeback this year, and the store offers a large selection of
both new and classic games to choose from. As David puts it, these games allow
people to spend more time together, engaging and communicating with one another
rather than promote playing in solitude. Family games are also great presents
that offer what David calls a “second level of play,” meaning, the first level
of play is the time spent receiving and opening the gift, and the second level
is the act of utilizing and enjoying the gift right then and there. With family
and friends all together exchanging gifts, why not spend the next hour or two
enjoying what the gifts were intended for with one another? The TreeHouse
offers games that engage everyone in the family, from kids ages four to
grandparents or great grandparents. In particular, David mentioned classic
games such as “Mystery Date” are particularly popular, and will often hear
people in the store say, “Oh my gosh, I remember playing that when I was a
special is it brings a sense of nostalgia to the adults that walk through the
door, as much as it offers wonderment to children. David said people often
gravitate towards buying items they’re familiar with or what they once had as a
child, as he finds adults tend to buy gifts with the thought of giving their
kids something they themselves once loved. You’ve heard the term “everything
old is new again,” yes? Well, that is the case here with gift-giving this year.
But I find it’s also an appropriate and affectionate term for old-fashioned,
neighborhood toy stores.
Do While You’re There:
from childhood past, take a stroll one block north of the TreeHouse and pop
into a relative newbie to the Elmwood strip: Can Can Candy (read Buffalo Rising’s
write-up here). Just like its toy-filled counterpart, this candy shop is
of the old-fashioned kind, with shelves upon shelves of any kind of candy you could
want, from the traditional chocolate bars and suckers to old-time ribbon candy
(this brings back memories from my grandparents), bug candy (that is, candy in
the form of bugs) from California, salt water taffy from Utah, and imported
chocolate from Canada.
find any number of unique or traditional chocolates and candies in this store. Has
someone been naughtier than they were nice this year? Give them some Lump O’
Coal™ gum (pictured).
Secret Santa recipient or party host, one of Can Can Candy’s best sellers are
their candy cakes (pictured), which are candies wrapped up in the form of a
David and Gaetana, shop owner Ernie Torres opened Can Can Candy without any
prior experience in the business. He wanted to offer something fun and
whimsical for kids and adults along the Elmwood strip. Walking into the store, you’re
hit with a colorful explosion of bins and containers filled with different
candies to choose from, not unlike the candy shop you may remember from the first
few minutes of the film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
films, Can Can Candy has child-friendly movies playing in the background at all
times, anything from Disney flicks to the Wizard of Oz, The Music Man, and any
other number of musicals that inspire a cheery mood in customers. Currently,
you will find all holiday movies playing in the store.
opinion, the TreeHouse and Can Can Candy offer up a doubleheader that will be
sure to delight anyone this holiday season, or any time of year. Don’t miss out
on Elmwood’s two most creative and fanciful shops.