Little Monsters Kids Toy Store in Lake Orion
Toys, art and 'really cool stuff' come together at this Oakland County gem that has plush animals, retro toys, games, educational fare and tons more
When it comes to the Little Monsters toy store in southeast Michigan, the only question that's tough to answer is: "What don't they have?"
Located in Lake Orion, this independent shop prides itself on being a specialty destination. It stocks oodles of unique treats to delight any kid, tyke to teen – from books to instruments to forts, plus plenty of retro toys, science and nature finds, wooden playthings, collectors' stuff with incredible design and even U.S.-made gear. Prices range from 25 cents to $100.
Opened by Leila Freijy and Chris McKenna back in 2006, Little Monsters has a quirky creativity you can sense even in its store logo (which Cyrus, Freijy's son, hand-created when he was 8 years old).
Its eclectic mix of toys – which spans Ugly Dolls and Playmobil to interesting imports from around the world – are all set in a welcoming, cozy brick store on Flint Street. It's definitely caught local parents' attention (they named Little Monsters the best toy store in southeast Michigan in Metro Parent's 2012 Parent Picks).
Employee and friend Jean Keitz says the founders share a passion for finding specialized educational and artistic toys for children.
"They're real careful about what they purchase," Keitz says of the owners, who strive to stock items that can't be found in the average toy store.
In addition to toys – and there are, literally, thousands – Freijy and McKenna carefully choose the books that line the shelves in a quaint room at the back of the store, inspecting illustrations as well as messages.
Little Monsters takes its appeal to all ages seriously, catering to everyone from newborns to parents. Adults are often browsing board games and jewelry while their children play with any item that catches their eye.
"We let them play with trucks, look at books," Keitz says of the store's hands-on attitude. Allowance goes a lot further here, too: Children love "The Center," which features about 100 items that are only $1 or less. (Ask about free gift-wrapping, too.)
Art also comes to life in monthly shows that spotlight the work of Michigan artists. Look on the walls to spy creations like oil paintings, mixed media works, photography and more.
The shop also offers story times and classes for kids, like journaling and drawing, and participates in the annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day in November.
With its combination of art, education and fun, Little Monsters is sure to deliver smiles – and goodies that'll make the whole family happy.