As a first time mom, I’m realizing just how much “stuff” these tiny human beings use. Between a swing, bouncer, high chair, pack’n’play, jumper, teethers, and toys, I feel like my whole house has been taken over by my 8-month-old.
Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe your house is exploding with toddler toys, some that have been abandoned and collecting dust because your child is bored or out growing it.
Maybe you find yourself constantly buying new things in hopes that it will occupy your kids for a few precious minutes so you can sip your coffee in peace.
This was the case for Gilbert mom of two (with a third on the way), Payton Allen, who finally reached her limit with toy clutter.
“I wanted my kids to have exposure to all the fun toys,” said Payton. “But it became a vicious cycle; they got bored, so I bought new toys, then they were playing and quiet, but after a few days they got bored again.”
Set out to make a change, Payton began researching various toy libraries throughout the country, intrigued at the thought of renting toys instead of buying them.
After extensive research and collaborating with a toy library in Wyoming to understand the ins and outs of the business, Payton began the process to start The Toy Library of Arizona—building a website from scratch, figuring out how to book keep, obtaining a business license, and more.
The Toy Library of Arizona officially launched in July 2022 after a few months of pilot testing and has been steadily growing ever since.
How it Works
Think of it kind of like a book library. You obtain a membership and have access to a toy catalog of over 260 toys.
Each toy is assigned a point based on its value, but no toy exceeds four points, even if it’s worth more. This allows families the ability to always rent at least two toys at a time.
Toys can be checked out for up to two weeks but can be exchanged sooner if your child is growing bored with it. After the two weeks, simply make a new reservation and check out new toys. Payton will bag all the toys for you and they’ll be ready for pick-up in Gilbert. Current pick-up days are on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Once toys are returned, they undergo a strict cleaning procedure using a non-toxic hospital grade cleaner that sanitizes and disinfects.
“My desire is for people to feel like they’re receiving a new toy,” said Payton.
The Benefits of Renting Toys
Save money. Toys are expensive and kids’ developmental needs and interests are constantly changing which means they can outgrow toys easily. “Families are spending an astronomical amount of money on toys,” said Payton. “Toys are expensive so this allows you to try them out without buying them and see if your kids like them and want to play with them.”
Keep kids interested. There’s something exciting about playing with something new. By renting toys, kids get to explore that new toy they’ve been wanting while also improving the quality of their play. “There’s so much research on toy rotation—having fewer toys keeps them engaged,” said Payton.
Access to quality, carefully selected toys. Good quality toys that focus on exploration and learning can be pricey. Through renting, your child can have access to these types of toys without the high costs. “You won’t find a ton of battery operated toys,” said Payton. “I really want them to facilitate development and play. I keep my eyes on award-winning, sustainable, durable, and long-lasting toys to add to our catalog.”
The Toy Library has a variety of toys geared for kids from newborn all the way through age eight.
“We have everything from games and puzzles, Lovevery, pretend play, figurines, water toys and more,” said Payton. “I wanted to hit all those ‘hot items’ but also feature educational toys focusing on literacy, numbers and counting, and STEM toys. There’s a little bit of everything minus the toys that just don’t benefit kids.”
As the Toy Library of Arizona looks to the future, Payton said she hopes to not only grow its presence and toy selection, but to have a brick and mortar building.
“I would love to someday have a space where kids can play and then toys can be taken home, like a library,” she said. “I also plan to do some pop up play locations where I can bring some of the popular toys and provide a space where parents can bring their kids.”
While The Toy Library of Arizona is currently based in the East Valley, Payton said another goal is to eventually expand pick up locations to serve other parts of the Valley. For more information visit thetoylibraryaz.com