Just before the busiest shopping time of the year, a new toy shop has opened in the center of Katonah. Carrying an array of toys for infants through older children, G. Willikers now occupies almost a third of the retail space held by Viktoria Fisch, proprietor of Ebba, at 107-109 Katonah Avenue.
Meghan Bazaar has set up shop in about a third of the space formerly occupied by Katonah General Store—recently taken over by Fisch, who removed the wall between the two shops.
Bazaar said a lifetime of experience in the business gave her a solid foundation from which to build up a local following.
"I grew up in the toy business," said the Katonah resident and mother of three children, ages 9, 6 and 18 months. "Everything I carry, I've tested. I have a lot of information and knowledge about how to bring great products to the local marketplace."
Bazaar chatted about her product lines in the store on her first official day of business Monday.
Many of the toys are sustainably made, environmentally-friendly and organic—meaning that in most cases, they are allergenic, dye and BPA-free and made with recycled materials.
For example, a Green Toys tea set is made from recyclable milk bottles. The award-winning Plan Toys line is made with vegetable dyes. Bazaar said the toys were great options for any child and in particular, those with allergies. She also sells Corolle dolls and Tolo plastic toys made with all-rounded edges—appropriate for the toddler set.
Bazaar is the daughter of Linda Ambrosino, who has for 25 years owned G. Willikers toys in Saratoga Springs—where Bazaar grew up—and two other independent toy stores: Poof Berries in Kennebunkport, ME, and The Toymaker, located just outside of Albany.
"Because of the other stores, if there's a line of toys someone local is interested in, we can have it here in a few days. The inventory will continue to evolve here," she said.
Bazaar said there's plenty for older kids, pointing to Djeco art kits—both glitter and stamp varieties—and intricate shadow puppet kits suitable for 8-10 year olds.
Ashley Greene, a Katonah mom of three, stopped in to wish Bazaar luck on her first day. The two struck up a friendship after meeting each other in a Music Together class; Greene was already a fan of the Saratoga store and encouraged her to bring the brand here.
"There's nothing like this around," said Greene, a mother of three children and a Katonah resident. "You can't get beautiful, environmentally friendly toys like the ones in this store. I've been going to Target to get toys for birthday parties and they are just not as special."
The relationship between Ebba and G. Willikers is symbiotic, Fisch and Bazaar said.
"There's a great connection between what Viktoria has going on with Ebba and the toys in terms of lifestyle," said Bazaar. "There are great quality products here that are good for the environment, that are amazing and well-designed. Plus, our kids are part of our lifestyle and moms can come in and shop for themselves and their children in one place."
"The the spaces finally connected," said Fisch of the store, which historically had been open as it is now. The extra room in the front of the shop has given her more room for clothing and furniture sales, in addition to the jewelry and her signature custom-made perfumes and candles.
The owners are planning a party for November 8—to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Ebba, the opening of G. Willikers and the release of local author