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Indie toy store roundup: Shopping outside the (big) box

By Todd Coopee on November 7, 2015

With Christmas just around the corner, a trip or two to a toy store is likely in your future. In the National Capital Region, we’re fortunate to have a number of independent toy stores that deserve some serious shopping consideration. Advantages of shopping outside the big-box stores include: attentive service, unique offerings to cater to all of your gift giving whims, plus the satisfaction of supporting local businesses.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite independent toy stores in the Ottawa area. You can also download & print our handy map to help plan your excursion.

Photo from the Comic Book Shoppe Facebook page.

Photo from the Comic Book Shoppe Facebook page.

The Comic Book Shoppe

The Comic Book Shoppe is the place to go if you are buying gifts for a science fiction fan, fantasy card game guru, comic book aficionado, or graphic novel enthusiast. Their two stores are packed with hard-to-find merchandise that is sure to please the self-proclaimed geek in your life, no matter what their age.

Only in-store shopping at 2 locations.
1400 Clyde Ave / 228 Bank Street.

Fandom 2

Fandom 2 is a game-lovers dream. The store is filled with card games, role playing games, and board games enough to make any game fan weak in the knees. If you’re buying for someone else and you don’t know what to choose, the friendly and enthusiastic staff is more than happy to help.

Only in-store shopping
162 Laurier Ave. West.

Lost Marbles

The sister store of Ottawa institution Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s, Lost Marbles will have you giddy with delight the second you step into the store. Catering to playful people of all ages, this toy store offers an interesting mix of classic and current toys and games that will you leave you smiling and entertained.

Online and in-store shopping at 2 locations.
809 Bank Street / 315 Richmond Road

Photo from Mastermind Toys website.

Photo from Mastermind Toys website.

Mastermind Toys

When you enter a Mastermind Toys store, you may experience sensory overload. The stores are brimming with toys of every variety, but they have a natural flow to them and each section has its own personality. You’re sure to find the perfect toy or game, even for those who can be difficult to buy for. They know their stuff ? Mastermind Toys is a Canadian success story that spans almost three decades and three provinces.

Online and instore shopping at 3 locations.
1091 St. Laurent Blvd / 145 Roland Mitchener Drive (Kanata) /  71 Marketplace Ave (Barrhaven)

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s

With five locations across Ottawa and almost four decades of experience in toy sales, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s has the National Capital Region covered (and Lost Marbles is a sister store). Each store’s shelves are packed with a selection of curated toys and games that focus on play and educational value. The staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and always happy to provide recommendations.

Online and in-store shopping at 5 locations.

Playvalue Toys

Well worth the short drive from the downtown core, Playvalue Toys offers a massive collection of toys in a warehouse-style setting. The store offers a broad range of toys for all ages, including a large selection of two of my favorite brands: LEGO and Playmobil. Operating in the Ottawa area since 1994, one of the owners will likely be in store during your shopping expedition.

Online and in-store shopping.
130 David Manchester Road

Scholar’s Choice

Dubbed “The Teacher’s Store”, Scholar’s Choice is ideal if you’re looking for educational toys, games, or crafts. Jam-packed with classroom supplies and curriculum aids, Scholar’s Choice is both an educator’s paradise and a great option for parents too.

Online and in-store shopping.
2121 Carling Ave.

Strategy Games and Accessories

Don’t let this store’s small size fool you! Strategy Games is chock-full of an eclectic mix of board & strategy games. It is also a chess lover’s paradise, with a variety of specialty chess sets, accessories, and books on ? you guessed it ? strategy.

Online and in-store shopping.
250 Bank Street

Toys on Fire

If you want access to some of the latest trends in sports/action figures, collectible card games, and fantasy board games, Toys on Fire is the place to go. The store offers a mix of items that caters to both adult collectors and children.

Online and in-store shopping.
3-130 Riocan Avenue

Fun on the Rideau Canal 1000 piece puzzle by Pauline Paquin. Photo from My Toy Store Facebook Page.

Fun on the Rideau Canal 1000 piece puzzle by Pauline Paquin. Photo from My Toy Store Facebook Page.

My Toy Shop

A trip to Manotick isn’t complete without stopping in at My Toy Shop. From books to dolls to games, the store offers a little bit of everything, with an emphasis on unique, educational products. My Toy Shop is owner-operated and known for its attention to detail and exceptional customer service.

Online and in-store shopping.
1136 Tighe Street, Manotick

What experiences have you had at local independent toy stores? What’s the best toy or game find you’ve made this season? Let Apartment613 readers know by leaving a comment below.