Enamored with the village center in her new town, Ariel Friedman — a parent of two young girls, who has a background in fun fashion and children’s wellness — spent her first year in Wilton wondering why there wasn’t a toy store for young children located in the center of town.
“I just couldn’t believe it when we moved here,” she said. “There are so many kids.”
Now Friedman has remedied the situation by opening the doors of her new shop, Wild Child, an independent toy store for children from birth to age 10.
The store officially opened on May 6 at 90 Old Ridgefield Rd., right next door to Scoops ice cream, in the former location of Local Soul.
The store features a variety of toys, big and small, plus jewelry, crafts, clothes, stickers and more. Friedman favors stocking items that aren’t likely to be found in other places, products from small vendors with unique stories, but mostly things that she and her daughters are truly drawn to.
“My girls love helping me buy for the store, of course,” Friedman said, with her daughters, Olive, 10, and Miel, 6, students in the Wilton Public Schools.
Originally from Miami Beach, FL, Friedman and her husband, Josh, were most recently living in Los Angeles before the pandemic encouraged them to explore other options on the east coast.
A certified yoga instructor, Friedman taught at and ran her own yoga studio for kids in West Hollywood called Zooga.
“It did have a retail part as well, which I really enjoyed shopping for,” she said.
But then the pandemic hit hard in L.A. and regulations forced her shop to be closed for nearly 18 months, devastating the business to a large extent. While she remained active, changing the business model to a virtual one, the signs were there encouraging the family to consider making a move.
“We just fell in love with this area when we came to visit friends in spring, 2021,” she said of Wilton.
From the get-go, however, Friedman preferred shopping locally in Wilton Center rather than seeking out items at the large stores down the road in Norwalk.
“I couldn’t believe I was having to go to Walmart whenever I wanted to buy a present,” she said. “So when this space became available, I jumped on it.”
She began putting the business together in March and has moved quickly to get it up and running.
“It’s not my first rodeo,” she said, so she’s confident about handling the logistics. “My entire career background is kind of in retail.”
A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Friedman had a first career as a swimwear designer, ultimately working as the creative director for Perry Ellis’s line of women’s swimwear.
While it was fulfilling, however, it was also exhausting. Following the birth of her first child, Friedman found her transition to Zooga a much better fit.
“I love kids,” she said, noting that owning a toy store represents an exercise in fun for her. “It’s just so fun. I just like to have fun. That’s why I was in swimwear and not suits.”
As her new store comes to life, Friedman looks forward to melding her innate sense of fun with attractive and engaging items on the shelves.
“I hate the word ‘curated,'” she said. “I just buy what’s aesthetically pleasing to me and looks like fun.”
“A lot of the businesses are small businesses,” she said. “We try to buy things that aren’t carried by Target or Walmart, specialty items that are harder to find.”
Among the unique lines available at the store are baby products from Bella Tunno, a woman-owned business that matches purchases to food donations.
“I’m buying from a lot of women-owned businesses,” Friedman said.
As for the name of the store, Friedman said it just came to her as a good fit.
“It’s just a cute name for a kids’ store,” she said. “It’s me (and) I have two wild children of my own.”
Wild Child is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Good Luck. Tough Location but hopefully you will be a destination shop. We needed another good kids store.
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