If you’ve ever walked around Inwood Village, chances are you’ve seen Toys Unique, the 40-year-old family-owned children’s toy store bursting with gizmos and gadgets a plenty. In its current location for the past seven years, Toys Unique first opened for business in 1982. Owners Pam and Dean May have weathered the toy business with many pivots and changes and locations during that time—but for this couple, there’s no other way they would have it.
“I was 24 when I sold my first toy,” says Pam May, who has since handled front-of-the-house business while her husband handles the back. “We really work well together. He does that side, I do this side, and we meet in middle.” Not long after selling that first toy, she and Dean welcomed their first child, a son, eventually followed by a daughter, while their business expanded to multiple stores around the North Texas area.
Now, with their two children grown, she and Dean have settled on this single location. “Our goal in our elderly years was always to get down to one store,” May explains. “And that’s where we are now.”
Already stocked and geared up for the holiday season, May says they are prepped for the ongoing supply chain situation. “We had two warehouse spaces—we ended up almost quadrupling that,” she says. “Normally we would only order for a few months what we ordered through Christmas. Then we started thinking, we need to not only buy through December, we need to buy through January and into February. So, that’s what we’ve done.”
And while their warehouse is chock-full of Barbie dolls and LEGO kits and all those other festive toys for tots, she cautions her customers to shop early anyway. “It’s not to say that we won’t have a lot towards the end—we will—but we might not have that one Barbie they want,” May says. “We might have another Barbie, but we might not have that one.”
Luckily, the entire team at Toys Unique makes shopping (and shopping early) as easy as possible for its loyal customers—no matter what. During the pandemic, the store had to shut down for five weeks. That didn’t stop Toys Unique—Pam and Dean continued to pay their staff while Pam would fill orders to all the moms and customers in the area from her cell phone and handle pick-ups in the alley behind the store.
“I learned a long time ago that retail is a people business,” May says. “Yes, it’s the buying, and yes, it’s the selling and all that. But the bottom line is about people. And so you take care of your staff, and you take care of your customers.”
For the holidays, they are ready to do the same—and they are also hiring store managers and receiving managers for those interested. And while the store is open and back in full swing for in-person perusing, May says you can also follow them on Instagram for gift ideas, peruse their catalog, call ahead, or make an appointment with her or the staff for specific personal shopping help—she even says some customers bring their children in to take pictures of toys and hone those Christmas lists in advance. Don’t forget about the complimentary gift wrap, either. “Whatever makes it easier for them, we’re willing to do,” May says.
That sounds like a family-owned business who understands what the holiday season is all about.