But Toy Joy’s reach is most definitely not limited to Austin. Shipping worldwide, Toy Joy has throngs of fans across the globe.
The Toy Joy Story
I had a chance to get to know Lizzy Newsome and her husband, Trevor Yopp, during my visit. Though together they are the legal owners of Toy Joy, they prefer the less imposing and more playful title of “Toy Curators.” They absolutely love what they do and their story is an interesting one.
Toward the end of her college experience, Lizzy took a job at Toy Joy working for the original owners. Though she and Trevor were about to be married, she was concerned that asking for time off to honeymoon would put her newly acquired job in jeopardy. A calculated risk taker, both then and now, Lizzy took a shot knowing that her job might not be there when she returned.
She was wrong. The owners kept her on, and in six months Lizzy was promoted to manager.
Trevor wasn’t about to be left out of the fun. He came on as a part-time employee for the holiday season. Three days later, seasonal work became a full-time position.
After two years, the original owners of Toy Joy decided to retire. Having observed Lizzy and Trevor’s enthusiasm with customers and their sincere passion for the shop, they asked the young couple if they were interested in buying the store.
Lizzy and Trevor took another shot, and have continued to expand the Toy Joy name with excellence since purchasing the store. To their credit, they are extremely active in day-to-day affairs. During our visit, Lizzy was arranging merchandise and cheerfully offering her assistance to customers. Trevor was hard at work on the web store, a growing focus as Toy Joy’s national and international audience grows.
When asked to describe the essence of their Austin icon in no more than two sentences, Lizzy and Trevor said, “A super color explosion of youthful and intellectual entertainment for all ages. And we gift wrap for free.” Trevor tacked on, “It reminds me of that friend’s house who had cooler stuff than you, but you got to go to their house and play with all their toys.”
Fortunately for you, Toy Joy lets you take the cool stuff home.
What is the Toy Joy Experience Like?
Toy Joy is Austin awesomeness at its best. It’s not easy to express the energy and vibe of this place. Be prepared to be assaulted with color, fun and friendliness. Where else can you find a plastic giraffe on the same shelf as a rubber stegosaurus?
You can easily burn a couple of hours inside Toy Joy without realizing that time has passed you by. You’ll find a myriad of surprising discoveries in every corner, on the floor and – yes – hanging from the ceiling.
From nostalgic playthings like Ultraman and Godzilla, to collectible items from Hello Kitty and Marvel Superheroes, you’ll have an endless variety of epic goodness to browse through. Known for carrying a wide assortment of Rody, Ugly Dolls, Fraggles, Felix the Cat, Futurama and more, Toy Joy will not leave you wanting with the variety of their purposefully-chosen stock.
Toy Joy is famous for offering a revolving collection of bizarre knick-knacks throughout the store, with employee-drawn signs affixed to each bin. All items in the store are said to be “safe for an eight year old.”
Gift shopping and not sure what to get? Never fear, Toy Joy employees are known as the “present picking staff.” With a little bit of input from you, they have the know-how to recommend the perfect gift. And then they’ll gift wrap it for free.
As if all of this weren’t enough, by popular demand, Toy Joy has started Toy Joy Subscriptions. With a Toy Joy Subscription, you can get joy delivered to your mailbox every month. Choose from a wide variety of subscriptions, ranging from the Moustache of the Month Club, to Hello Kitty Stationary. Subscriptions are paid by the year, but they work out to $4-5 dollars a month on average.
And for a limited time, if you subscribe to their free newsletter, they’ll give you a one month Toy Joy subscription for free, so you can see what it’s all about!
SXSW 2013 at Toy Joy
Featuring an art exhibit space, Toy Joy’s SXSW offers a kid-friendly alternative that is relaxing and beautiful. Toy Joy is booking five bands, including ShardZ, and they have a few surprise guests lined up as well.
Learn more about Toy Joy’s SXSW on their Facebook page for the event. Updates are posted in real time as performers are confirmed.
Final Thoughts on Toy Joy
Since visitors from all over the world stop by, as well as a cohort of loyal local patrons, you may want to call ahead before planning your own visit…especially on the weekend. It’s not uncommon for Toy Joy to be filled to capacity. If you’re gift shopping on a deadline or want to ensure relaxing perusal of the shop, Toy Joy invites you to call in at (512) 320-0090. Ask for the “Crazy Level;” they’ll know exactly what you need to know.
When you have to have a “Crazy Level” hotline because the store gets to be just that packed, you know that Toy Joy is doing something right.
Hopefully Austin will continue to play first and work second, and remain just enough off kilter to always appreciate the uniqueness of places like Toy Joy. If you haven’t been yet, you’ll be a fan as soon as you walk in the door.
Have you ever been to Toy Joy? What are your thoughts?