15 Sep Bringing the Joy of Toys Downtown
Kappa Toys has a little something for everyone, from toddlers to the young at heart of all ages. From American-made wooden blocks adorned with the ABCs (or the elements) to mini kaleidoscopes, fluffy stuffed hand puppets, or the classic Etch A Sketch, Kappa Toys owners Lizzy Newsome and Trevor Yopp have it at their Downtown Container Park store.
“We really look for fascinating toys, and focus on whether the toy is good quality, and fun and well designed,” Newsome said. “We’re reaching back to the roots of toys, the beginnings of toys. Where an average big box toy store might strive to just sell toys, we want people to come in and appreciate them, to have an experience shopping in the store, and to build relationships through the toys.”
The husband and wife team recently opened the store at Container Park with hopes of establishing a haven for both children who are eager to look with their hands, and adults who will remember some of the store’s stock as favorites from their own childhoods. They also hope to be a place families can visit week after week. “We’ll have examples of almost all of the toys out for kids to experience, but we also have our bins in the store with toys priced under $2.50, so you can buy something that’s $1, and it can be a fun outing without being a big shopping trip,” Newsome said.
Newsome and Yopp first discovered their love of running a toy store in Austin, Texas, when they started as hourly employees at Toy Joy. A cultural touchstone in the Austin community, Toy Joy was located near the campus of the University of Texas, Austin, where Newsome first discovered it as a student.
“Trevor and I met in high school, and when I left for Austin we were dating and we would visit each other, and one of the first presents I brought him from Austin was from Toy Joy,” Newsome said. ”I brought him stuff from Toy Joy knowing he would love it.”
Newsome started working at Toy Joy in 2006 after graduating from college. She had always liked retail, and wanted to be a buyer for a store, but found that working as a buyer for an independently owned store required on-the-job experience. As a huge fan of pop culture, cartoons and toys, Newsome jumped at the opportunity to work at Toy Joy, even if it was only working the sales floor as an hourly employee while waiting for Yopp to finish college. She began expressing interest in the buying process, pushing the owner and buyer to expand the store’s stock with characters from the Hello Kitty collection, among others.
A few months after Newsome started, Yopp joined the store’s team as a part-time holiday helper, and found he was also a natural fit for the store. Before long, the couple was managing the store and Newsome took over as buyer. Within two years, the store’s owner proposed that Newsome and Yopp buy the store.
“We already had an emotional investment,“ Newsome said. “We already felt like we owned the store, so it wasn’t so crazy to buy it.”
The couple bought the store in October 2008. As they were signing the deal, the economy started to fall apart. Despite the recession, Newsome and Yopp persevered for about five years, finally closing the store in March 2014.
After Toy Joy closed, the couple was encouraged to move to Las Vegas, where Downtown redevelopment was in full swing, but a key ingredient—a toy store—was missing.
“We came to Downtown Las Vegas to visit and fell in love with it,” Yopp said. ”We want to be accessible to the community, and start to be one of those things that people grow up with. We hope one day the kids that come here now with their parents will bring their own kids because they remember how much they loved the store.”
Downtown Container Park
707 Fremont St., #1170