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July 4 - 17, 2009 23
Nostalgic favorites at old-time toy store
by Jen Bondeson much play value. That is one of
Surrounded by memories of when they were young, the things I try to get parents to
mother-daughter team Becky Starling and Jen Evans look at. What are the children
are living their dream at work. The pair opened going to do with it? Are they
Horsing Around Toys two years ago with the mission going to play with it? Is it going
of creating a unique, interactive, hands-on toy store. to get their child’s imagination
After 30 years in the business and a childhood fi lled going?”
with collector’s items and specialty toys, Starling says When children walk into the
it came easy to them. store, Starling says they are
Now located in a young, family-oriented community excited about the hands-on
on the corner of Arizona Avenue and Ray Road, play available. Kids can play
Starling hopes Horsing Around Toys will soon become with building toys in a tub or
the “favorite neighborhood toy store.” other specialty toys on display.
When the store fi rst opened in Casa Grande, Starling “When children play, they
says they experienced a form of nostalgia as they are learning,” Starling explains.
searched long and hard for their favorite childhood “You want to put toys in front
toys, such as Breyer horses, Brio trains and Gund of them that have value and
plush stuffed animals. teach them something.”
Starling says most adult residents are pleasantly Horsing Around Toys
surprised the fi rst time they walk into the store. has mostly specialty and
“One Sunday afternoon one family came in and educational toys. The store was
said to me, ‘Oh my gosh, an old-fashioned toy store! given its name for Starling and STSN photo
I haven’t seen this in a long time,’” Starling recalls. “I Evans’ lifelong love for horses. HORSING AROUND: Horsing Around Toys co-owner Becky Starling plays with some of the
get that a lot.” Starling lives on a horse ranch
specialty toys in her store.
Starling and Evans wanted to build a store that was in Casa Grande, where Evans
different from large chain stores, where Starling says used to help her parents trade
business alive in the recession. Horsing Around Toys
brand-name toys dominate and customer service and breed horses and give riding lessons.
provides a layaway option for all purchases and offers
is not adequate. Starling has worked in all different The store does carry some mass-produced toys,
advice to parents looking for toys for children with
levels of all types of toy stores, from employee to but Starling says they are extra careful to learn where
special interests.
manager and privately owned specialty stores to large the toys they carry are made. The store carried none
Horsing Around Toys is located at 1022 N. Arizona
chains. of the toys that were recalled en masse over the past
Ave. in Chandler. For more information, visit
“The large chains for me are same old, same old,” few years. or call 480-917-3074.
Starling adds. “Kids are so infl uenced by TV and Starling says it is the customer service she and
commercials, but advertised toys may not have that Evans provide at the store that has helped keep
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