The stitched artwork of Susan Taylor Glasgow. Photos by Keith Borgmeyer From the sidewalk, the glass studio of artist Susan Taylor Glasgow appears to...
At Speckled Frog Toys & Books, three generations work together to bring families closer through playtime. Mother-daughter duo Shelly Cassiday-Riesenmy and Erin Babb opened the toy store downtown in Alley A this summer. Though she’s only 19 months old, Erin’s daughter, Lorelei, plays an important role at the store as the Speckled Frog’s unofficial mascot and toy tester.
Speckled Frog offers a curated mix of toys and books for children between infancy and 10 years of age. Shelly and Erin hand pick everything in the store, which offers an eclectic mix of puzzles, games, crafts, costumes, and more. You won’t find some of the more standard toys in the store, as both women agree that providing toys that customers wouldn’t normally see at Walmart or other big box retailers is an important factor in their business model.
When sourcing products, the pair picks toys that have a focus on education. This is an especially important feature for Shelly and Erin as they try to stock their shelves with toys that inspire parents to play alongside their children. “We really like it when parents come in and they play together. There’s nothing here they can’t play with,” says Erin.
Making sure that they are providing customers with safe products is a top concern. “We like to do our research,” says Shelly. Many of Speckled Frog’s toys come from European distributors, since the women like to keep their products as organic as possible for the little ones. As a result, many of their toys are made from wood.
Sustainability is another key element in their product sourcing process. Shelly and Erin choose their products with the aging process in mind. “These toys last a long time; they aren’t throw- away toys, they are something that kids can play with and grow with,” says Shelly.
In the future, the pair hope to add more family activities within the store, and possibly even grow their space to do so. For now, the ladies are excited to offer customers fun gift options for the holidays. Some of their favorite toys for the season include wooden train sets and riding scooters made to look like Vespa scooters.