TODAY'S PAPER
39° Good Afternoon
39° Good Afternoon
LifestyleFamily

Toy stores on Long Island offering curbside pickup and socially distant shopping

Toy store G. Willikers in Locust Valley has had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic just to stay in business so it offers shopping by appointment or FaceTime, phoning in or ordering online for curbside pickup, and/or delivering to out-of-town recipients. Credit: Morgan Campbell

When it comes to holiday shopping for kids, the show must go on. And so the pandemic has expanded customer service at many Long Island toy stores.

Vanessa Cruz, manager of G. Willikers in Locust Valley, says her staff now FaceTimes with customers to allow them to shop virtually with personalized attention. "We’re literally just walking around the entire store showing them different things," Cruz says. "They’ll say, ‘I’m looking for something for a 7-year-old girl who likes crafts.’ Sometimes, they want to see what the box looks like."

For people nervous about heading into a toy store this holiday season, more than a dozen Long Island mom-and-pop venues are offering shopping by appointment or FaceTime, phoning in or ordering online for curbside pickup, and/or delivering to out-of-town recipients.

"I would try to do anything possible to be as helpful as possible," says Steve Goldfarb, owner of MJ Beanz in Plainview. Fellow owners and managers echoed the sentiment. Here are some of the local stores' plans for the season:

TOY STORES IN NASSAU COUNTY

G. WIllikers

In addition to FaceTime, G. WIllikers will offer shopping by appointment Thursdays through Sundays for extra hours after the official store closing. They’ll also offer a gift registry to allow other relatives to shop for a child online. They’ve even had people stand outside the store while the staff members show them gift possibilities through the window, Cruz says. (22 Forest Ave., Locust Valley, 516-671-3335, gwillikersgifts.com)

MJ Beanz

MJ Beanz will devote 90-minutes per day solely to helping customers shop by phone. The store, which normally closes at 6 p.m., will close at 5 and staff will answer phones or return customers’ phone calls until 6:30 so they can focus their attention on helping people, Goldfarb says. "I feel the best thing to do is to set aside a certain time to do it," he says. Then customers can pick up curbside at their convenience. The store stocks toys, games, puzzles, Legos, crafts, children’s jewelry and more. (345 South Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview, 516-827-7700, mjbeanztoys.com)

Fantastic Toyage

Owner Alex Kuvish will not only take a phone order and payment by credit card and run the items out to your car for contactless curbside pickup, he will help you shop from your car. Call in advance and tell him what you are thinking about. "I’ll pick out a few items, bring them out to the car and they can choose," he says. "If there’s not something they like, I’ll go back in and pick something else." The store stocks Star Wars merchandise, board games, puzzles, Barbies, action figures and more. (5288 Merrick Rd., Massapequa, 516-882-9250, fantastictoyage.com)

Funky Monkey

Funky Monkey will offer shopping by appointment in 20-minute blocks from 9 to 11 a.m. and also for a couple of hours after normal store closing, says owner Stanley Greenman. Shoppers would know there would only be perhaps one other set of shoppers in the store at the same time, he says. "A lot of customers like to touch the product and hear a little about it," he says. Funky Monkey also created a new website this year with hundreds of items for people to select online and then pick up curbside, Greenman says. The store will also take phone orders for curbside delivery. (360 Wheatley Plaza, Greenvale, 516-484-0966, funkymonkey.toys)

Fun Stuff Toys

The store was coincidentally working on a project putting 95% of its offerings on its e-commerce website when the pandemic hit. "It really panned out, getting the site up and running," says Lynn Feitzinger, manager. The site offers the option of shipping, curbside pickup or in-store pickup. For curbside, customers will get an email when the order is ready and can come at their convenience to have items put into their trunk. The store will also take phone orders. (3639 Merrick Rd., Seaford, 516-409-8697, fstoys.com)

Magna Mindz

The store offers FaceTime shopping and curbside pickup, says owner Sunny Dahra. "They tell us, ‘I’m looking for gifts for a two or three year old … Mainly people know what they are shopping for. If they want puzzles, we take them to the puzzle section," he says. The store offers toys from major brands including Mattel, Hasbro, Lego and more. (380 West Old Country Rd., Hicksville, 516-226-3336, magnamindz.com)

Emagine Toys

Customers can FaceTime the store to shop or order by telephone and pick the items up curbside, says co-owner David Ganjian. The store serves newborn to age 13, with items from major companies including Lego, Mattel and Fisher-Price as well educational toys and workbooks, Ganjian says. (44 Atlantic Ave., Oceanside, 516-792-3331)

Matty’s Toy Stop

Matty’s offers curbside pickup for orders that can be placed by telephone. "We can suggest ideas, and we can take their credit card over the phone," says Patrick Collins, general manager. A staff member will bring the purchase to the buyer’s car trunk. (1530 Peninsula Blvd., Hewlett, 516-295-2555; 284 Sunrise Hgwy., Rockville Centre, 516-634-0030; 19 Covert Ave., Floral Park, 516-358-4010)

SUFFOLK COUNTY

Einstein’s Attic

Staff members will FaceTime with customers to allow them to see potential selections, says owner Lori Badanes. The store also created a catalog site where people can buy gifts for curbside pickup or free Long Island delivery. In addition, online users can create a wish list for their child and share it with out-of-town family members to make it easy for everyone. "Everything will be wrapped and tagged and holiday-ready," Badanes says. Tags will say "To Sally, Love Grandma" or "To Sally, Love Aunt Vivian," for instance. "No one has to go out and buy Sally a gift," Badanes says. (79 Main St., Northport 631-261-7564, einsteins-attic-northport.myshopify.com)

Learning Tower Toys

If customers know what item they want, they can phone in an order and staff will bring it to their car, says owner Marjorie Goh. "They have to know what they want," Goh says. The inventory is too wide for staff members to help customers randomly shop by telephone, she says. Learning Tower stocks educational toys. (4747-26 Nesconset Hgwy., Port Jefferson Station, 631-928-2040, learningtower.com)

LI Toy & Game

"We have a website; they can order online and choose store pickup," says owner Bill Stewart. Payment is by PayPal or Square, or people can pay with a credit card or cash on arrival. Call the store to set up a curbside pickup time for the items. "We carry a nice mix of brand new and vintage," Stewart says. "If we don’t have it, we can order it from one of our distributors, or hunt it down if it’s vintage." (12 Main St., facing parking lot of Kings Park train station, Kings Park, 631-546-5334, litoygame.com)

Cow Over the Moon

Need a gift for a 6-year-old, for instance? Call the store and get help picking something out, says Brian Drucker, owner. The store includes free gift wrapping, and staff members can either bring the item to your car or ship it to you or the recipient. The store sells Lego, remote-controlled cars, dolls, games, Paw Patrol merchandise and more. It also offers sports memorabilia. (282 Main St., Huntington, 631-424-1796, toysonmainstreet.com)

Stevenson’s Toys & Games

Both locations offer curbside pickup, as well as local delivery between Southampton and East Hampton for a fee of $25. They can also ship items, says owner Roy Stevenson. "We are a full service, old fashioned, classic toy store, so we do that," he says. The store will also help customers shop by telephone if they call for advice for a child of a certain age and interests. (69 Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631-283-2111; 66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 631-527-7222, stevensonstoys.com)

Goldsmith’s Toys & Electronics

Customers can make an appointment to come into the store either before opening or after closing, says owner Kathy Halliwell. They can also phone in orders and have them delivered to their car or home. Staff members can also email or text photographs of items, and the store has photos of options posted on its Facebook page, Halliwell says. The store carries Lionel trains, puzzles, games, dolls, plush animals and more. (128 Main St., Greenport, 631-477-0466)

More Family