Area toy store is brightening up Vancouver during uncertain times

Kazoodles celebrated it’s 14th anniversary right before Washington state began restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic

Mitch Torres
For ClarkCountyToday.com

VANCOUVER — “We’re rainbows and happiness and sunshine and hearts, and that’s what we are,” said Leah Pickering, owner of Kazoodles Toys on Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver. That description of Kazoodles holds as every inch of the walls and most of the store floor is decorated with shelves of toys.

Pickering’s journey as the store owner is still reasonably new, as she has only been in that position since early last year. She isn’t new to Kazoodles however. “I worked here for seven years,” Pickering said. “Fortunately, I have been trained really well by the previous owner, and I had worked here. I have a lot of people who are very supportive [and] who I can ask questions.” 

Kazoodles celebrated it’s 14th anniversary right before Washington state began restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Mill Plain store has only been around for 11 of those 14 years, with a second location formerly located in Downtown Vancouver. 

Kazoodles celebrated it’s 14th anniversary right before Washington state began restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Mitch Torres
Kazoodles celebrated it’s 14th anniversary right before Washington state began restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Mitch Torres

Before Pickering took over from the previous owners, Bob and Mary Sisson, Kazoodles began as two grandparents looking for toys for their grandkids. “Bob and Mary were continuously driving across the river to pick up toys and find interesting things for their grandchildren, and they saw an opportunity to start a store and did so.” 

Pickering is continuing that legacy of children-powered play and exciting toys. 

“When I knew that Bob and Mary were thinking about selling the store, it really upset me because I just couldn’t picture Vancouver without this store.” Pickering said, “I didn’t know how I was going to buy it, but I knew I had to. And that kind of kicked me off on my journey.” 

Pickering’s journey has been incredibly eventful, with her taking ownership of the store officially just months before the pandemic. Pickering feels that play, toys, and toy stores, in general, are now more critical than ever for children. 

“Just like adults, this is a very stressful time for children. And the beauty of play is that it’s stress relief, especially unstructured child-like play.” Pickering said, “The beauty of a board game is that togetherness, and family time. It doesn’t even have to be family time it can be sibling time.” 

Pickering feels that toy stores and toys help children deal with some of the discomforts and stress that we are living through but parents. 

“We have parents who are looking to us to continually refresh the things that they are offering their children,” Pickering said, “We have children who have special needs whose parents rely on us to carry a specific type of product every now and then.” 

The toy store on Mill Plain Boulevard has been around for 11 of the 14 years. Prior to that, Kazoodles was located in downtown Vancouver. Photo by Mitch Torres
The toy store on Mill Plain Boulevard has been around for 11 of the 14 years. Prior to that, Kazoodles was located in downtown Vancouver. Photo by Mitch Torres

The store has also seen an increase in book sales as well with Pickering noting that the children that come into the store during the pandemic “would like something new.”

Pickering loves the opportunities for community interaction that come from the store as well.

”We see them from birth to teens a lot of the time. It’s such an incredible privilege to play a small part in those families’ development.” Pickering said, “They could choose anyone, and it’s really a privilege for them to choose us.”

To learn more about Kazoodles Toys, visit: www.kazoodlestoys.com.

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