The TreeHouse Toy Store opened on November 4, 1996. The Elmwood Village is so fortunate to have such a unique and special place to buy toys. Both David and Gaetana studied business in school and were working in business when they decided to open the store 18 years ago. They wanted to open a business that fit both of their personalities—David is outgoing and mathematical, while Gaetana is more visual and has marketing experience. David and Gaetana are both very passionate about what they do and challenge each other with different ideas and strategies. “You have to be passionate,” says Gaetana, “Whenever you’re in a small business setting, it’s the most important thing to keep moving forward.” The TreeHouse has become one of the village’s most well known stores; everyone knows the alphabet mural on the side of their building. David and Gaetana took some time from preparing for Neighborhood Toy Store Day to tell me what inspired them to open their store, and what has kept them here in the Elmwood Village for the past 18 years.
Q: What inspired you to open a toy store?
A: “We lived in the neighborhood and both had full time jobs… We were looking at the space at our first location for a market research business for David. The more we thought about it, the more we started to realize we should open a business we enjoyed doing; we should explore our opportunities and do something that would be a better fit for us personally. David used his market research background to pull demographics on businesses and we noticed that there was not a specialty toy store in the area. This seemed like a better fit for us to connect with the community and put something back in the area that was missing.”
Q: How do you differentiate yourself from other toy stores?
A: “You have to attract two different customers, the child and the purchaser. We offer a unique shopping experience, an atmosphere that ignites the child’s imagination and also makes the parent feel good and have a bonding experience with their child. Adults come into the store and are taken back to a great time in their lives as a child. Being in business 18 years, our customers do outgrow our store. But we hope that we create an experience for them and that they come back with their children. Being an independent toy store allows us to select every toy that comes through your door—based on what we see. Sometimes at toy shows we will see something and think of a particular customer that would love it.”
Q: What do you love about owning a toy store on Elmwood?
A: “We grew up outside of the city but we’ve been in the community for 30 years. It is a unique area, and it has a great energy. We have been fortunate to have wonderful customers that support us and we hope that we deliver on what our mission is. One of the most rewarding things in our 18th year here is having the opportunity of having our first customers bring in their children… and also parents who have now become grandparents. Customers will say, “I am so happy to have a reason to come back and buy toys.” We are fortunate to be a part of creating an experience or a memory for a child and also to be a part of growing up and people’s families.”
Q: What will you be offering for neighborhood toy store day?
A: “We try to make it a special day at the store. We always have game demonstrations, toy trivia, and a lot of interaction in a fun way with customers. We will have giveaways and a raffle at the end of the day. New this year, we will be offering the chance for a limited number of kids over the age of 8 to have the chance to become a TreeHouse toy tester. We will also have the famous caramel corn!”
Be sure to stop by The TreeHouse at 793 Elmwood Ave.