December is the season for families, celebration and giving. And if you're an adult (or possibly the jolly man in the red suit himself) who needs a little help finding the perfect gift to give during the holidays, Nick Tarzia's got you covered.
Tarzia owns and operates Stamford Toys & Books at 970 High Ridge Road and it's the been non-stop this year, he said. Tarzia's actually been in business at the location for 25 years, but he's only been in the toy business for the last five.
The store began as an office supply store that housed the North Stamford Post Office location, then transitioned into a stationary store before Tarzia fully committed to the toy business.
Now, 16 weeks ago, Tarzia has extended into the shop next door, knocking down the wall and expanding his offerings to a large selection of books. Currently, Tarzia estimates he's got about 500 titles on hand and roughly 10,000 different toys in stock.
"Now, we're about twice as large as we were," he said. "Our book section is going to continue to grow. We began really getting involved in that aspect, and then the holidays were upon us and we decided to focus on our primary business—toys. But the books section and growing our online business will be big parts of 2012."
Patch stopped in to talk with Tarzia about this year's hot items and he gave us a break down of some of the top sellers.
For Creativity: Legos—Always a classic, Tarzia said the Hobbit-themed tie-in sets for the upcoming film have been hugely popular. Star Wars sets are traditionally strong, as well, but this year, a line based on Ninjago animated series have also been popular.It's also the first year Lego seems to have successfully cracked the girls' market with it's new "Friends" line, which has been selling like crazy, Tarzia said.
"It's their first successful year getting into the girls' market," he said. "Everything in this aisle is all we have left. [Lego] under-produced by about 30-percent, I'd say. I haven't been able to keep them on the shelves."
He also pointed out a product called MagnaTiles, which sell well every Christmas season according to Tarzia.
For the Energetic: YBike Explorer—A GoKart-style trike that rides low to the ground and has interesting steering controls with a single back wheel and two hand levers that control direction.
"Kids have just loved these, they're really neat and it helps them burn off lots of energy."
For the Little Chef: My Chocolate Boutique—A kit that allows kids to create their own chocolate and candy-dipped treats, Tarzia said they've been a popular item this year in the traditional vein of the EZ-Bake Oven.
For the Youngest: Pound & Tap Bench— Tarzia pointed out the musical play bench for toddlers and said it was one of the more recent best-sellers in the educationally-geared baby toys with bright colors and sounds to inspire developmental growth.
You can get all those items and see more of what Stamford Toys & Books has to offer at their online storefront right here. At the physical, brick & mortar Stamford Toys & Books store, Tarzia offers patrons free gift wrapping, free birthday cards and free batteries.
"Everything's free but the toys," Tarzia laughed.
Signing up for the stores free membership card also gets customers 20-percent of the highest-priced white-ticket item in their purchase once per day. Checking in at the store on Facebook during a visit gets 20-percent off a second white ticket item. Finally, a third discount of 20-percent off a white ticket item is offered for those taking a picture of an item being purchased and shared via social media.
"I love toys and this is our busiest time," Tarzia said. "I've never been happier."