I have been very vocal about my displeasure with Learning Express over the last few years. However, I have been saved and now appreciate the local treasure, that is, Learning Express.
From this little contraption that my kids liken to fake skateboarding, to some easy yet fun pogo stick that is in the form of a Styrofoam type square that is the safest fun way to bounce, to the puppet theatre, to the little plasma cars, and my personal favorite, the opened games on the table that the cashiers kept pulling me to play with them, I can't believe how an hour and a half flew by! I have fallen in love with two of the games, and purchased one of the two. I was without my wallet so I couldn't purchase the second, but will be going back, probably this week if Geoff gives me the go ahead. So, I will share those later, but let me give you the background, and then fill in the blanks.
Even though I have had my issues with this store, there was always a reason I had to go back. First, they are VERY well stocked in a type of craft that my daughter loves, and I often stock up to give as gifts. They are called "Sticky Mosaics." We have done most of them at this time, and they are wonderful fine motor skills types of crafts, and my daughter is a huge fan. I also will go for their free events that I find out about through email.
Once, we went to a free event that sounded like so much fun. However, I am mentally challenged some days, and that was the undoing of my appreciation for the store, and have had to slowly re-appreciate the store, and what it has to offer. So, the event was a free event that allowed you to come early and wait for hours in a long line, out doors, in the winter, to take pictures with Santa and his LIVE reindeer. (I know, you know me well enough, what was I thinking?) I sat and watched, and honestly, was rewarded with the crappiest pictures of my kids ever with Santa, and my heart was breaking watching these four reindeer stand in one places tethered to the sleigh for hours. It was horrible, and I suppose I am more upset with myself than at the store.
The stores all have this unique gift buying method set up. Children can go into the store, and pick out all the things they would really like to have as a gift. They put it into a box, and the store places them out on their birthday month. (I think this is how it works.) We have received birthday invites that have said that the child is "registered" with a box at Learning Express. You can go, ask to see their box, and purchase an item from there. That is way cool for the hard to buy for child that you don't know from your childs' class. At one time that upset me, but after seeing it enough, I can get an idea from there, and then order it online or use one of the frequently emailed coupons and get it.
Their selection of toys is much better than the non toy stores. They have unique crafts, science projects, non battery operated toys that have much longer attention span depth than most of the light up or noise making toys. The staff truly loves children. Today, we had the pleasure of playing with Emma. Emma is sixteen, and speaks as if she is a grandmother. She has a twinkle in her eye, and giggles while reading the silliest parts of the books she read to my children while I shopped nearby in the store. I think she will make the best mom in the world one day. In the mean time, I will practice my smiley face and patience each day until she starts competing with me.
Once, we signed up for a free event, and I said "signed up," as a subtle hint that if you get emailed about an event, you really should sign up to make sure that you get a spot and that they have enough supplies. Today's event was a pre-registration event, but that was because you had to pre-pay for the supplies. Today was a Melissa and Doug make your own yo-yo kit with paint, stickers, and glue to put it together. The kit was $6, but it was incredibly worth the money when you consider that we had a 20 minute activity followed by a little more than an hour of play time in the store. Children, and adults, are encouraged to play with many demo games, toys, crafts, etc. I found a scratch type art book that I remembered seeing as one of the prepay summer art projects to do a few weeks ago. I didn't sign up, since I didn't understand what it was, and only wanted to treat the kids to one event. Well, I picked up a kit, and it said, "Demo" on it, and so I played for a few minutes. Glad I had the opportunity to play as it was something I thought was worth the money nor something my migits would particularly love to do.
All in all, I loved every second of being in the store today, and look forward to July's reading fun they have planned for us. I think it begins on the 9th. Call and ask, and tell them Erin sent ya'!
PS Tenzi anyone?