There is an air of quaintness about the Newbridge Toy Shop at 1791 Main St., at the northeast corner of Kilbride Avenue.
That is in part because Winnipeg’s newest toy store, which was opened in August 2012 by the husband-and-wife team of Twyla Motkaluk and Vince Gatti, is situated in a 100-year-old, 1,400-square-foot wooden building that was a sign store for 30 years and a general grocery store before that.
It’s also due to the variety of toys, many of which have an-old fashioned feel to them — although they are contemporary in design.
"I like shopping here," says customer William Whyte, a West Kildonan resident purchasing some educational gifts for his young son and daughter late one sunny afternoon.
"This is not a cookie-cutter toy store. I like the fact he toys are made out of wood, and that my kids can learn and explore with them. It’s also local and the owners are very friendly. They know their stuff."
Up until now, there had never been a "specific" toy store in the North End, according to Motkaluk, who works full-time at the store, while Gatti, a sound engineer at Stage Lite Manitoba, helps during his free time.
"We only have a small number of independently-owned toy stores in Winnipeg. But we’ve got plenty of hobby shops here. We wanted to have a place where you could find something special, yet not too expensive."
She pointed out that all of their toys and related supplies are from different distributors in Canada, the U.S. and parts of Europe.
A walk around the store reveals toys, games and models manufactured by such noted names as Melissa & Doug, Manhattan Toy, Adora Dolls, Folkmanis Puppets, Heroes Force (a Canadian company that produces Canadian Forces action figures) and Schoenhut Piano Company, manufacturers of toy pianos, among other companies.
They also stock juggling sticks, locally made by Skill Toys Canada.
So far, business has been "OK", says Motkaluk, noting that the store’s name refers to the Settler’s Bridge, which is found a bit further north off Main Street.
Motkaluk said that she’s "always honoured" when a child, who has earned his/her own money from doing chores, comes into the store to purchase something.
"That’s the biggest compliment you can get," she says. "What a great feeling, that they have chosen this store. It’s so cute."
Martin Zeilig is a community correspondent for the North End. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.