Monday, Oct. 18, 2010 | 1:55 a.m.
Map of Kettlemuck's
10895 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson
Last week, a customer walked into Kettlemuck’s Toy Shoppe in Henderson, looked over its contents and paid owners Dave and Carolyn Stefaniak what they consider the highest compliment.
The elderly man said it reminded him “of a mom-and-pop FAO Schwarz,” Dave Stefaniak said.
Like New York’s famous toy palace, toys are stocked as tightly as they can fit into the 2,600-square-foot store, which opened Oct. 9 on Eastern Avenue, near Sunridge Heights Parkway. Life-size horses and lions sit atop the shelves, surveying a large sandbox, where gifts have been buried to be found by curious treasure-seekers.
Board games, stuffed animals and everything in between are for sale at the Stefaniaks’ new enterprise — but no electronics. Everything runs without a battery or a plug.
While video games “have their place,” Dave Stefaniak said, he hopes the store encourages children to exercise their imaginations.
“You should never let your inner child leave you,” he said.
To capture kids’ imaginations, the Stefaniaks sought the advice of their own: Colette, 13, Olivia, 11, and Noah, 9, who created Kettlemuck, the store’s mascot. He’s a friendly troll, sort of, crossed with a rabbit and a mouse.
It’s a family business — they helped stock the store and offered input through nine months of preparation — and the trio have made a “big sacrifice” of their free time to stay involved, Carolyn Stefaniak said.
In the book corner, Mortimer, an animatronic ficus tree from the rain forest, tells stories and teaches children about his habitat. The Stefaniaks have included a number of humanitarian touches in Kettlemuck’s: families in Ghana and Peru crafted its drums by hand, for fair wages, and the sandbox is filled with bits of recycled milk cartons.
In the age of iPods and videogames, Carolyn Stefaniak said she believes there is still room for more traditional toys. Paper airplanes, Slinkies and Silly Putty are just some of the classic toys that line the shelves.
One rack is dedicated to small candies and trinkets for 5 or 10 cents. Carolyn Stefaniak said she envisions kids bringing their allowance to Kettlemuck’s and treating themselves.
The Stefaniaks, who owned a bookstore in Buffalo, N.Y., before they moved to Las Vegas two years ago, attended toy fairs in New York City and elsewhere to research how their business could succeed while staying true to their principles.
And that means having “the things Wal-Mart and Target don’t have,” Carolyn Stefaniak said.
Although its doors have been open for about a week, it’s been getting a warm response, Dave Stefaniak said. Some customers have said the store is unlike anything they’ve seen, he said, and nodded with approval: “So far, so good.”
Kettlemuck’s, 10895 S. Eastern Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.