Walk into any toy shop in Singapore and you’ll likely be faced with a bunch of boxed-up toys. It can leave you wondering about their quality and safety, and even how kids might interact with them – whether it’s a train set or a play kitchen. LittleShop does things differently, by offering demo sets that you can interact with and get a feel for, before deciding.
It also boasts the largest toy kitchen collection in Singapore! In fact, this toy shop in Marina Square stocks an eclectic variety of edutainment options for little ones. One of its key products is a range of hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) toys, such as the Teifoc Real Bricks Building sets and Eitech metal construction sets.
Owners KEVIN and ANGELA KWOK love seeing their own children, Colette and Jonathan, have fun and engage with the toys at LittleShop; they also like to balance this indoor play with lots of cycling and outdoor activities, including a family favourite – visiting the zoo!
Here, they share how their toy shop encourages creativity and play differently from others.
How did LittleShop come about?
We started our business a few years back as a small online shop focusing on children’s products from Japan and party goods. Along the way, we noticed the lack of a variety of high-quality, open-ended toys for children in Singapore. As parents of young children ourselves, we used to only be able to purchase high-quality toys when we travelled abroad, or by putting up with expensive shipping costs.
This sparked the idea of importing unique toys from Europe. Many of them are new concept toys that local customers may be unfamiliar with. We felt the best way to introduce these new brands would be to set up a brick-and-mortar shop; that way, parents could see and feel the products and ask questions.
What do you look for when sourcing toys?
We recognise how important play is when it comes to a child’s development, but they should also have fun and be safe. These values guide the way we source our toys. Play is the best way for young children to learn as they are inquisitive in nature. So, we focus on hands-on, open-ended toys that can stimulate their curiosity, creativity and interest. Safety and quality is another top priority for us. There are a lot of cheap options in the market, where production and safety measures are subjected to shortcuts to keep costs down. Our toys are compliant with the strictest safety requirements of the European EN71 standard. It’s better value to invest in high-quality toys that can last for generations, so the wonderful memories can be passed down and shared.
What are some highlights in the LittleShop range?
We have some quite unique toys from Germany. For example, we carry Teifoc bricks building sets consisting of real, reusable bricks. The mortar is water-soluble, which allows the constructed models to be dismantled and rebuilt again. The sets also come with a child-sized trowel.
We also have Eitech metal construction sets. Each set consists of loose parts for kids to learn how to put them together to form different models. A child-sized screwdriver and a wrench are included to make it easier for smaller hands!
Our Anbac anti-bacterial toys are made from patented materials such as high-quality plastic embedded with naturally anti-bacterial pinewood; they’re tested by the German Institute for Food and Technology. These toys have the ability to self-sanitise within eight hours, which is exceptionally useful for toddlers who are going through the oral developmental stage and like to explore their surroundings by putting things in their mouths.
What toys are popular with parents right now?
The Teifoc (Germany) bricks building sets and New Classic Toys Kitchenette (Netherlands) are our best-sellers. Toy kitchens are one of the best investments for young children because they promote an open-ended play experience, allowing them to create their own way of interacting with the kitchenette. At different ages, you’ll notice them creating different stories and imagining themselves being in different roles. They also learn social-emotional skills as they play together with family and friends.
Our daughter, who’s eight this year, loves the Premium Kitchenette with its electric cooking stove that creates sound and light. Each time she visits the shop, she’s so eager to “cook” for us. Our son is six this year and his personal favourite is the Harbour Set that consists of realistic-looking container ships, trucks and cranes. It’s uncommon to find wooden toy harbour sets and it gives him a good understanding of how real-life machines work.
We hear you also have an “experiential concept” for your toy shop. Could you elaborate on that?
We sell toys, not boxes. Quite often when you walk into a toy shop in Singapore, you’ll find an array of nicely displayed boxes but you’ll have no clue what the quality is like or how they might work to engage your child. In LittleShop, we provide demo sets for most of our toys. This allows parents and kids to feel the toys and interact with them they make a purchase decision.
What are some pandemic-related measures you’re taking in the store?
We remind customers big and small to have their masks on at all times and provide hand sanitisers at the entrances and at different areas of the shop so customers can easily sanitise their hands before and after playing with the toys. Our toys are also sanitised frequently; we apply a self-disinfecting coating to keep away bacteria, viruses and fungi for three months. When we close our shop, we use UV sanitisers to ensure the shop’s hygiene.
A Few Toys to Try
Struggling to decide on what to get for your kids? Here are some of Kevin and Angela’s recommendations for different age groups:
- Up to age 3: “I would recommend the New Classic Toys Kitchenettes and cooking toys, and the MODU self-building construction blocks, which aid in the development of gross motor skills.”
- Ages 3 to 5: “Kids of this age would benefit from exploring the BigJigs wooden train set, a dollhouse, or the Planks2Play wooden planks.”
- Ages 5 to 8: “Among the toys that suit this age group best are the Teifoc bricks building sets, Eitech metal construction sets and Makedo creative cardboard construction tool kits.”
#02-25 Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard
6974 6965 | littleshop.toys