Wonder Works, an independent toy store with four locations in South Carolina, debuted two of the country’s very first interactive Melissa & Doug Play Zones.

These new spaces give kids an immersive place to play while offering retailers a way to display and demo new products, embracing the experiential retail concept. Working with a team of designers to bring the concept to the location, Melissa & Doug is the first toy manufacturer to make this type of play zone available and accessible to smaller, local retailers.

Melissa & Doug Play Zone

As The Toy Association’s Genius of Play noted in the campaign launch for its upcoming “Play All May” effort, the American Academy of Pediatrics cites a “play deficit” for developing kids, and thus encourages a “prescription for play.” Melissa & Doug, with its mission to “Take Back Childhood,” has a prescription — to provide toys that nourish creativity, emotional and social interactions, and problem solving through hands-on play.

“Melissa & Doug has knocked it out of the park,” says Wonder Works owner Christine Osborne. “They are making a difference not only in the lives of children, but of specialty toy retailers across the nation. By experiencing the magic of hands-on play at Wonder Works, children in our community are not only exploring the world around them, they’re making memories that will last a lifetime.” 

Wonder Works Toys

Wonder Works owner Christine Osborne (left) and the new Melissa & Doug Play Zone.

“Wonder Works epitomizes everything a specialty toy store should be — seeking to delight and inspire children with hands-on, open-ended play,” adds Melissa & Doug co-founder, Melissa Bernstein. “Melissa & Doug is honored to partner with them to bring experiential play to life in their stores and provide a launchpad for children to ignite their imagination and a sense of wonder so they can discover themselves, their purpose, and their passions!”

The Melissa & Doug Play Zone can be experienced at two of Wonder Works’ locations — Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley (Charleston), South Carolina. Another play zone will soon open at Awesome Toys & Gifts in Connecticut, an independent toy store owned by Nick Tarzia.

For more insight into Wonder Works approach to toy retail, read Christine Osborne’s feature in the Toy Book’s annual State of the Industry Q&A series.