Books, Nooks, Niches and Games

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Even the registers have been given a whimsical, custom treatment.

Brilliant sky toys & books is more than just a toy store ― It’s a fun family adventure! Co-founder and vice president Sonia Taylor invites customers to “come in and have fun!” You might say that she’s an expert on play having previously owned TreeHouse Toys & Books in Eastwood Towne Center since 2002. The “tree” and Tree House theme were transplanted to the Meridian Towne Centre in 2009. A huge tree painted on one wall is set against a brilliant sky that hugs the entire shop. Although the location is different, the goal of the toy store is the same: to offer a wide variety of high-quality, educational and fun toys and games that appeal to children of all ages. To top it off, it’s set in an atmosphere that’s reminiscent of a playhouse. Like a kid in a candy store, visitors have many items to catch their eye and spark their imagination. You can shop, wander around or settle in any of the stores many nooks and niches. A big brown stuffed bear is a permanent resident in the book area, sitting on one of the benches that anchor the carpet. Once each week, he’s joined by a librarian from East Lansing Public Library and many eager listeners for story hour. Young shoppers can try on costumes in the designated “dress-up” room. They can also test-drive riding toys to see if they meet their approval. A wooden floor was laid down to make the ride smooth. Besides traditional toys, there are other treasures — from soft blankets for newborns to hand-painted decorative terramundi ceramic pots that make for unique gifts. And while the toys are the treasures that bring many into the shop, Taylor’s goal was to create an open space with a homey feel where whole families can spend time together. “We’ve had visitors of all ages find a special item that’s just right for them,” Taylor said. One grandmother brought her grandchild into the shop and she sat on the floor watching her grandchild explore. “They stayed for an hour and a half.” The business is a family affair. Having lived in Tennessee, the Taylors returned to their hometown nine years ago “to be closer to their respective family.” Taylor co-founded Brilliant Sky Toys & Books in Okemos with her husband Brent, who serves as CEO. Her sister-in-law helps staff it. Her father built many of the wooden structures throughout the shop, including the wooden entryway that surrounds the front counter. The three Taylor children have served as chief toy consultants throughout the years. A close friend painted the many wall murals, including the large tree. Although they’re grounded in the area, Taylor visits toy fairs twice each year to see all the latest in toy merchandise and accessories. Husband Brent travels throughout the United States opening new franchises — most recently in Colorado. Their next focus is to include more items on the Brilliant Sky web-store found at www.brilliantskytoys.com. Although it’s part of a franchise, Brilliant Sky Toys & Books has a custom look and community feel. Taylor said that she’s been told by customers that “sometimes they don’t even feel like they’re shopping,” And all seem to agree that when it comes to combining learning with fun, the (Brilliant) sky’s the limit.
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Tags: Brilliant Sky Toys & Books, Meridian Towne Centre, Sonia Taylor

Ann Cool

Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.