Shreveport toy store helps families find fun at home

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – People across the ArkLaTex are adapting to a new normal. With stay-at-home orders in Louisiana, for a lot of folks, family time is now all the time.

Learning Express Toys in Shreveport is helping make all that togetherness a little more fun.

“We have everything from infants to… we say 0 to 99,” said Sarah Toups, who owns the local franchise.

Unfortunately, fun isn’t essential, and the storefront has been closed since the governor ordered all non-essential businesses shut their doors. But, they’re still inspiring imaginations.

And, here in this land of make-believe, play sets of doctor’s offices and grocery stores are a lot less busy than the real thing.

“We’re just trying to live moment to moment,” said Toups.

She said her four sons, who range in age from 4 to 18, have served as toy-testers at the store for years. Providing their expert opinions on products ranging from bubbles to air forts.

When she found out she had to close her store, a home away from home, because of the coronavirus, it was scary.

“I was shocked. Like, I couldn’t process it,” said Toups. “I just didn’t know how to feel. It’s very overwhelming.”

With the doors closed, her five employees are unable to work. And Toups is still trying to pay the rent.

“We’ve really had to adapt to this emergency situation just to try to have a little bit of cash flow,” said Toups.

For the first time turning to technology and a virtual storefront to sell these timeless toys online.

“A lot of people really are making the effort to shop local,” said Toups.

Board games are helping beat boredom at home. Games, along with puzzles, have flown off the shelves. She’s ordered more and is waiting for them to arrive.

“In all this mess, I think there is some good coming out of it,” said Toups. “I think families are spending a lot more time together.”

In the meantime, Toups said she’s waiting on the government to allow her store to reopen, while treating every day as a gift.

“If my little business closes, honestly, in the big scheme of things, people are losing their loved ones,” said Toups. “It’ll be OK.”

The low-tech toys offering a little magic and comfort during the challenging times.

Toups said delivery to Shreveport and Bossier City addresses is free and can be delivered as early as the same day.

While the store is closed, Toups said everything is undergoing a deep cleaning. Every toy touched is being wiped down and sanitized.

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