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Broadway Toyz to help imaginations

November 30, 2018—The owners of Broadway Toyz, the new toy store in Excelsior Springs, hope they can help show everyone how to play, imagine and dream.

For owners Chuck and Diane Wheeler, the store holds the imaginations of all the children young and old who come to play.

“We love all the little angel voices from the kids that come in and interact with each other, whether they know each other or not, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s all about their imaginations and the play and the fun.”

Chuck Wheeler declares his intent to aim his flying balloon in his wife’s direction. Wheeler said Broadway Toyz will have toys intended for adults who wish to play as well as children. Kimberely Blackburn I Staff photo

The Wheelers opened their first store approximately 20 years ago. Beginning as a bookstore, they added a few toys relating to the books in time for Christmas. The bookstore did well, Diane said, but the toys did better. Because Diane said they believe learning can be fun, the couple decided to attend New York Toy Fair to help them determine their future plans for the store.

She said they decided on more specialty toys from smaller vendors. They try to stay away from mass marketers. 

After a job transfer forced Chuck to move his family, the Wheelers closed their business. However, they said they never stopped imagining the store could re-open. Now that the couple nears retirement, they said they decided to re-open in Excelsior Springs.

Diane said they set up the store to promote play. She said they believe no one ever outgrows play. The day they opened, a group of children played together, traveling from station to station, socializing and playing together. 

Parts of each station mixed into other stations. Finding the toys required the Wheelers to think as a child, they said.  The ketchup from the hot dog cart in the kitchen’s refrigerator and the grocery store credit card in the cash drawer. The children even taught them other ways to play with the toys.

Chuck said the children showed him how to play with the toy pizza oven. He thought the pizza box went into the bottom slot, but the children told him the pizza bakes there, Chuck said with a laugh. Diane said the children even told the Wheelers to make sure they turned the oven off after playing.

This imagination, she said, will help them in learning life skills.

“Imagination turns into (life skills) and I think it makes them better students in school too because their brain is working,” she said. “They’re thinking of things, they’re thinking ahead. They’re imagining what could be.”

The Wheelers currently plan future events that will incorporate play with learning. Future events will include music days for toddlers and preschoolers and kite flying days. Diane said they will soon receive science kits they will incorporate into summer science camps. 

The Wheelers plan to work with other downtown Excelsior Springs businesses with future events. Diane said they plan to work with Main Spring Art Gallery to hold an art camp. They also plan to hold other summer camps including a drama camp.

The Wheelers said they describe Excelsior Springs as a special place. They said the like the family atmosphere and love the downtown area. They said they look forward to working with the downtown business community.  

“I think it’s beautiful how everybody gets along and cooperate with each other and supports each other and lends a hand,” she said.

By Kimberely Blackburn • kimberely@leaderpress.com

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