The folks at Sock Monkey Junction take playtime seriously.
“Kids’ language is play,” said Jesse Smith, who co-owns the new toy store in downtown Mansfield with his wife, sister-in-law and brother-in-law. “In the seminary, I learned how children play and how imagination gives you ownership. That’s the kind of toy we’re looking for, the kind that is toy driven.
“We want toys that are interactive, open-ended, creative and quality,” he said. “We all need to play.”
When you walk into Sock Monkey Junction, you quickly learn that they are selling more than toys. Wrapped among the books, board games, puzzles, blocks, dolls and specialty toys are experiences, education and fun.
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“Our aim is to have things in here that are not readily available at big box stores,” said co-owner Carin Janeway.
There’s Modarri modular cars that kids can take apart and rebuild into thousands of variations, Tegu magnetized blocks, Adora life-like dolls, Tempura Kwik Stik Paints that look like glue sticks but dry in 90 seconds, Haba games and, of course, sock monkeys, which Janeway collects.
Janeway came up with the idea for the store more than four years ago, then shared the idea with her sister Teri and brother-in-law Jesse. The Smiths, who were living in Illinois where Jesse Smith was a pastor, moved to Texas this summer with their sons, Kevin, 14, and Alex, 10, and opened the store Aug. 13. Janeway originally thought of opening the store in Plano or Frisco, then South Arlington. She was on her way to look at another site when she saw the for lease sign on the property on South Main Street.
“Mansfield is so family friendly,” said Teri Smith. “It’s providence that we landed in a place that’s so friendly. Mansfield is so tight. They are so loyal to the community.”
Sock Monkey Junction has reached out to the community, too, opening an activity room for game nights at 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and Pokemon club at 3:30 p.m. on first and third Thursdays.
“There’s a ton of games,” Jesse Smith said. “The ones we sell are entertaining for parents as well as kids.”
Kids can also take toys for a test drive in the activity room.
“If you can play with it, kids can decide if they like it,” Jesse Smith said. “This gives parents a chance to see what they actually play with.
“We wanted a space to bring people together,” he said. “We have specific toys that we have demo days.”
The owners of Sock Monkey Junction hope to be a part of downtown for a long time.
“One of my dreams for this is that the kids that are coming into play will bring their children into play,” Jesse Smith said.
His wife agreed.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were here for 70 years, if Kevin and Alex’s kids were running it?” Teri Smith said.
Sock Monkey Junction
316 S. Main St.