Modern, classic and educational toys are tops at this Whatcom institution – The Bellingham Herald

When they first visit the Launching Success Learning Store, children, parents and teachers alike have been known to shout “Wow!” and “Oh, my gosh, this is the best for sure!” and “Will you look at that!”

That’s what happens when people find this unique store, which is tucked away up the hill at 133 Prince Ave. immediately off Meridian Street, on the other side of the road not far from the turnoffs to Bellis Fair Mall.

As co-owner Jen Zimmermann says, “We’re the largest educational resource center from the border to Bellevue.”

Launching Success is packed with educational materials and all sorts of both modern and classic toys – many of them educational in their own right.

When the store was founded 15 years ago by Dan and Barbara Sanford, retired merchants who still own the building, toys weren’t a big part of the inventory.

But after Zimmermann and Kristen Ladiges, both of whom had worked there, purchased the store in 2013, the new owners realized they would need to include a wide variety of toys to make the store work best.

There are still, however, more than enough educational objects, such as building sets and science kits, to satisfy teachers, parents and curious kids who like to stretch their minds.

“Teachers spend less money than they used to,” says Zimmermann, pointing out how the cost of living in Whatcom County often doesn’t fit with the salaries of teachers, especially young teachers.

“Our primary markets are parents, grandparents, teachers and home schoolers,” she says. “It’s about one-third home schoolers, one-third toys and one-third teachers. Our success in the community is really good. Community support is huge.”

Of course, it also works the other way.

“We feel we support parents; we are a resource center for parents,” Zimmermann says.

Launching Success, of course, is challenged by the internet, like all brick and mortar stores. But the co-owners are intent on improving and expanding their website (www.launchingsuccess.com) and they produce quarterly print catalogs, including a large one for the holidays.

Speaking of the holidays, customers love the store’s free gift wrapping. That offer, in fact, is good any time.

“We’re a destination store,” Zimmermann says. “We’re off the beaten track.”

They are part of a member-owned consortium of about 80 stores, The Good Toy Group, and thus benefit from the economies of scale.

“The organization supports our mission of providing quality play resources. It also helps us keep current,” she says.

Fun, educational toys

▪ Robotikits: Kids can use 32 parts to build a variety of cool robots.

▪ Spin Balls: Children love to “paint the air” with LED lights.

▪ Crystal Growing Kits: A great hands-on toy fit for the whole family.

▪ Everything Rubik’s: There are cubes, towers, voids (with a hole in the middle). “These are among our best-selling toys,” Zimmermann says. “The kids just love them.”

▪ Strategy Maze Games: Gravity Maze, Current Maze, Laser Maze, complete with challenge cards.

▪ Cooperative Games: These are ideal for pre-K students, with no winners or losers, yet teach cooperation.

▪ Plus-Plus Blocks: This is a 3D building toy from Denmark. It’s an open-ended building toy that works either flat or 3D.

▪ Fair Dolls: These are Kruselings, among the most popular dolls in the store.

▪ Tea Sets: These are for children 3 and older and they have never lost their popularity. Credit Alice in Wonderland.

▪ Transforming Robot Cars: These work by remote control and are a favorite of older children (and likely a few adults).

Fun, educational toys

▪ Robotikits: Kids can use 32 parts to build a variety of cool robots.

▪ Spin Balls: Children love to “paint the air” with LED lights.

▪ Crystal Growing Kits: A great hands-on toy fit for the whole family.

▪ Everything Rubik’s: There are cubes, towers, voids (with a hole in the middle). “These are among our best-selling toys,” Zimmermann says. “The kids just love them.”

▪ Strategy Maze Games: Gravity Maze, Current Maze, Laser Maze, complete with challenge cards.

▪ Cooperative Games: These are ideal for pre-K students, with no winners or losers, yet teach cooperation.

▪ Plus-Plus Blocks: This is a 3D building toy from Denmark. It’s an open-ended building toy that works either flat or 3D.

▪ Fair Dolls: These are Kruselings, among the most popular dolls in the store.

▪ Tea Sets: These are for children 3 and older and they have never lost their popularity. Credit Alice in Wonderland.

▪ Transforming Robot Cars: These work by remote control and are a favorite of older children (and likely a few adults).

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