From her perch behind the front counter, Jennifer Fila has the best view of every smiling face that walks through the front door of her new Wilton Center store, Town Center Toys. And in the two days since she’s opened there have been a lot of smiles.
“Just seeing the kids come in. It’s kind of really cute to see what the kids are drawn to, you know? It’s been rewarding to see,” Fila says.
A resident since moving to town five years ago, Fila was disappointed when the Toy Chest closed its Wilton location in 2018. So when it came time to re-enter the work force after being a stay-at-home mom to two boys (10 and 13), she knew in what direction she would head.
“I would always talk about it like, ‘Oh, my toy store.’ I always wanted to do it. And then after the Toy Chest closed I saw a real opportunity for it. And as a parent, I really didn’t like that I didn’t have a place in town to come get something quick as a birthday present, or even if my son wants to spend his money on something, it’s nice to come into a toy store and look around,” she says.
It might be surprising to find out that Fila was a mechanical engineer, who started as an equipment engineer for IBM. She did get a glimpse of the toy industry in her next job a toy safety engineer for Melissa and Doug before moving on to Tiffany & Co. in new product development and working with supply chains and point of sale pricing. All of those experiences will help her as she starts this new venture.
Fila has designed the store’s space in a very thoughtful way, with a soothing color scheme and a roomy, airy feel. “I didn’t want to go too high because sometimes I feel like I’m in an aisle. I have such limited space I didn’t really have a choice for some of it. I wanted it to feel open. I didn’t want a huge space, just what I felt like I could manage,” she says.
She’s also been very deliberate about the items that she’s stocked on the shelves. Among the brand names and types of toy lines, shoppers will see Bruder trucks. board games, Pokemon cards, Aaron’s putty, summer toys, outdoors toys, Nerf guns, travel toys (magnetic) puzzles, collectibles, dress up clothes, puzzles, plenty of Squishables, PopSockets, fleece shorts, and so much, much more. [Editor’s note: Check out the pictures at the end of the article…]
There are both classic favorites and new specialties in the store, and in choosing what she would carry, Fila clearly took steps to make her store a place for all kids. For example, just look at the doll section, where shoppers will see two main brands–Corolle, a beloved line, and Hearts for Hearts, which makes dolls that look like girls from all over the world.
“I wanted a higher end doll, so I really like the Corolle. These dolls I really love too though, the Hearts for Hearts. Those are my favorite. I really tried to get these dolls in because I wanted any child that comes in at least to see themselves in a little bit of the product,” she says.
She’s also keeping the environment in mind when it comes to her product lines. For instance she’s introducing a new line of wooden baby and toddler toys, called Tender Leaf Toys.
“It’s a really pretty line from England and it’s all sustainable wood. They’re a really responsible company. It meets the safety standards of multiple countries. I think it’s just a really nice toy, and I’m hearing that a lot of the parents want wooden toys.”
Something else important to Fila is how she’s pricing everything.
“I really tried to create a store that I would want to shop in. I think for me I had a very hard line. You know, the suggested retail was what I wasn’t going to go over. I know some of the small retailers do try to do that just to kind of increase their profits because it is a very seasonal business. But I try to definitely stay at retail,” she says.
That awareness comes from knowing how Wilton families shop.
“I try to stick to a birthday price point because I feel like that’s what the need is. I think really you come in, you need a birthday gift. That’s what I needed–I needed a gift and I didn’t want to leave Town Center.”
Speaking of birthdays, Fila has come up with an adorable way to help provide gift bags for birthday parties. She offers custom paper bags in a range of colors that can be personalized and printed. The price varies on design but they start at $.50 per bag plus $.50-$1.00 for personalizing.
All in all, Fila said she’s excited about finding her niche and in just the two days since opening her doors, seeing how she’s succeeding at filling an empty space on Wilton’s retail landscape.
“People actually will just come in to say, ‘We’re so happy you’re here.’ So it’s really made me feel good,” she says.
Town Center Toys is located at 5 River Rd. in the Wilton River Plaza shopping center.