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New legacy: Toy store for more than just kids opens in West Acres

Legacy Toys has just opened in the West Acres Shopping Center.David Samson / The Forum1 / 6
Brad Ruoho is the owner of Legacy Toys in the West Acres Shopping Center.David Samson / The Forum2 / 6
Jelly Belly candy is a popular item at Legacy Toys in the West Acres Shopping Center.David Samson / The Forum3 / 6
Baby Stella dolls are displayed at the new Legacy Toys in the West Acres Shopping Center.David Samson / The Forum4 / 6
Schleich brand dinosaurs are displayed at Legacy Toys in the West Acres Shopping Center.David Samson / The Forum5 / 6
A collection of nostalgic toys brings back memories for baby boomers at Legacy Toys in the West Acres Shopping Center.David Samson / The Forum6 / 6

FARGO—A new toy store in West Acres Shopping Center is somewhat like a museum of fun for kids of all ages.

On a recent morning there, some adults stopped in to browse a wide selection of board games. Others headed straight back to a small wall of candy, which includes all 50 official flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans. And yes, some of the youngest shoppers were drawn to all of the toys.

Owner Brad Ruoho said that's precisely what makes Legacy Toys successful. He and his wife, Mistaya Ruoho, launched the brand in 2012 in Ely, Minn. They expanded it a couple years later to include a larger flagship store in Duluth, where interactive exhibits and an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex have become notable features.

Legacy Toys has occasionally created its own products to sell, including a board game this year and a coloring book in 2016. But Ruoho said the brand's success, including its expansion to Fargo where they opened a store on Nov. 18, owes to a deliberate focus on "curating a collection" of quality products rather than simply selling the hottest toy of the moment.

"We cover it all," he said. "The general idea is we want everyone to have fun and everyone to be a kid."

Family legacy

Legacy Toys isn't the couple's first business.

Ruoho said he worked in information technology for 18 years and has since sold that company. The couple also partially owns an adventure travel company that arranges travel in 20 countries.

But the toy store brand was a personal thing. He said their three girls, Ella, 14, Aria, 12, and Cora, 10, were glued to their iPods and Xbox video games. He hoped to inspire them to be more creative and interactive with their free time.

"We started the toy store, and our children are our greatest legacy," he said. "That's where the name Legacy Toys comes from. It's that investment into your children that's something that carries on."

The origin may be rooted in their personal family dynamic, but he said it's the unique mix of products, willingness to hold public events like board game nights and interactive displays at its stores that helped it connect with other families.

After starting in Ely, where the family lives, Duluth was a natural next site for expansion just two hours away. Ruoho said several malls have since asked Legacy Toys to open more stores.

But West Acres ultimately rose above the requests to become the first mall outside of northeastern Minnesota to get the brand. Ruho said Fargo was a good pick because it's a growing community with a strong economy and many children, but it lacked a specialty toy store.

Frequent requests from Fargo residents shopping in his other stores maybe helped him make the decision to come here, too.

Ruoho said Legacy Toys will continue to expand. The couple is currently looking at several other locations around the Upper Midwest. There's also requests to franchise the brand or allow investors to help open more stores, he said.

Legacy Toys now benefits Sun in My Heart, a nonprofit the couple launched that uses a portion of all proceeds to support orphanages and build schools overseas.

Growing the brand will come with time. For now, Ruho said he's just focused on getting through the holiday season. After that, he'll get back to work on beefing up the company's website.

Until then, he said he'll continue to make the "experience" of these stores add up to a fun time for kids and adults alike.

"It's not just a place to come shop and see aisles and aisles of items on white gondolas like some of the big box guys," he said. "Everything's designed to be played with."

Business profile

What: Legacy Toys

Where: West Acres Shopping Center, 3902 13th Ave. S.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

Phone: (855) 328-8697

Online: www.facebook.com/legacytoysfargo

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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