Legacy Toys puts emphasis on playtime in its new West Acres mall home
An interactive ball wall, a giant Lite Brite, and a dino-mite herd of animal figures invite kids young and old to have some fun while shopping in Fargo's new and expanded happy place.
FARGO — Julie Doggett is a grandma who knows how to have fun.
The former West Fargoan had no sooner ducked into Legacy Toys at the West Acres mall when her eyes lit upon the toothy, green-eyed Tyrannosaurus Rex statue dominating the Schleich display.
Handing her smart phone to the store’s manager, Doggett — all smiles — leaned into the Late Cretaceous critter, posing for a photo she planned to fire off to her granddaughter in the Twin Cities.
With the photo taken, Doggett was grinning, practically bouncing on her toes, ready to indulge her inner child.
“Just looking right now, they just have so many toys,” the Mesa, Ariz., woman said Tuesday, Oct. 26, before ducking deeper into the mall’s newest happy place.
Kasara Foell, general manager of Legacy Toys, has seen the look many times before.
“It’s almost as much fun to watch the adults come in … the awe, shock and wonder,” Foell said. “All the activities and just the sheer atmosphere of the place.”
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Legacy Toys opened its new 7,748-square-foot mall location on Friday, Oct. 22, in the space once occupied by a Gap store. The largest Legacy Toys store in the regional chain includes the mall's former Legacy Sweets shop.
Foot traffic was high over the weekend, Foell said, adding that it appears that people have started their Christmas shopping early this year.
The store was originally expected to open in August, but pandemic supply chain issues delayed the arrival of needed fixtures.
The mega-sized Tyrannosaurus model was a feature Foell specifically wanted after seeing how popular a similarly crafted carnosaur was at a Legacy Toys in the Twin Cities.
“I love the T-Rex! He’s just such a conversation piece and an eye-catcher,” Foell said.
A place for play
But the ’Rex is not the only attraction for the interactive toy shop.
Already in place are an interactive ball wall that’s more than 10 feet long and eight feet high; a giant Lite Brite wall; an adult-sized peg art board; and the chain’s first-ever Legacy Littles Neighborhood, featuring toys for babies and toddlers.
“I’m a Lite Brite girl. I remember playing with that as a kid,” Foell said, watching a couple of teens playing with the hand-sized pegs.
The ball wall has also been popular with children and adults, as shoppers plunk a ball or two into the display and watch them rise on air through tubes, to roll, slide and tumble their way back to the bottom, Foel said
“There’s nothing like wandering around and seeing how excited the kids get - excited about all the toys. … There’s something so sweet and innocent about it,” Foel said, inviting everyone to come on in and look around.
“Just feel free to play, enjoy the time here,” she said. “We’re always excited and happy to answer questions.”
Foell said holiday shopping appears to be ramping up slowly, much like 2020. She figures that in a couple of weeks, most people will be in the mood to gather presents.
Everything in its place
As you enter, there’s the ball wall and a “planes, trains and automobiles” section that will soon have a John Deere area added for lovers of Big Green tractors, Foell said.
Then there’s the Schleich shop. Foell said the animal figures have been stampeding out of the store.
“The quality on the Schleich is phenomenal,” she said.
Behind the Schleich area is a “building section,” featuring Lego, Playmobile and Magna Tiles.
On the other side of the shop is the Legacy Littles area, and the Legacy Sweets spot with its array of candies.
Backpacks, arts and crafts and family oriented games, puzzles, novelty toys and the checkout counter reside in the back of the store, along with the Lite Brite and a bench for tired parents.
“I made sure the bench was here so the parents could sit down and watch,” Foell said.
Play is big business
The U.S. toy market is big.
The size of the U.S. market for the total toy industry in 2020 was about $32.6 billion, which was a 16.7% increase versus 2019 according to The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service.
The Toy Association said about 3 billion toys are sold annually in America.
But this year’s total holiday spending has the potential to shatter previous records, the National Retail Federation reported Wednesday. That could mean another big boost for toys, too.
The NRF forecast calls for total holiday sales during November and December to grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion.
The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with a previous increase of 8.2% in 2020 to a spending high of $777.3 billion. The average spending increase over the past five years was 4.4%.
‘Thrilled to have them’
Alissa Adams, COO of West Acres Development, is impressed by the new version of Legacy Toys, with its bright lighting and wide aisles.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have them open. It’s truly a magical experience for both young and the young at heart. All their larger-than-life elements are fantastic. And having the two stores (Legacy Toys and Legacy Sweets) combined in one creates a really fun spot for kids and parents to come and hang out,” Adams said Wednesday, Oct. 27.
“This larger , expanded location definitely will allow for them to better serve their guests with a wider selection of toys and gifts and games, and really fill that niche (for toys) during the holiday season,” Adams said.
Legacy Toys got its start in 2012 in Ely, Minn.
The West Acres Legacy Toys first opened in 2017. The growing regional toy chain is now up to six locations: Fargo is the lone North Dakota store, with the rest in Minnesota (Ely, Duluth, Edina, Minnetonka and the headquarters in the Mall of America in Bloomington).