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Vassallo Q&A: Jennifer Kincaid's Westside Toy Story

Treehouse Toys is bringing joy to a great number of children. HottyToddy.com’s Steve Vassallo recently talked to owner Jennifer Kincaid to learn the rest of the “toy story.” The Ole Miss alum has found her niche in life and it relates back to her Atlanta childhood.

Steve Vassallo: Jennifer, before jumping into the toy chest, share with our readers what brought you to Oxord.
Jennifer Kincaid: Growing up in Atlanta, I preferred going to a smaller SEC school than Georgia and the “smallness” of Oxford really appealed to me. While at Ole Miss, I majored in social work.
Vassallo: As a child, what were some of your fond memories relating to toys and play in general.
Kincaid: I enjoyed having a play house while in elementary school, and I always liked to play “dress up.” I definitely had my share of dolls plus a collector’s item with lights: a Victorian Dollhouse. I used my imagination frequently, which I believed stemmed from the great deal of reading that I also thoroughly enjoyed doing.
Vassallo: Shifting gears to Treehouse Toys which you have now owned for several years, what age children do you most relate to?
Kincaid: Our niche market ranges from birth to 10. However, we carry a number of gag/novelty items that appeal to older children and even adults. We also have a good number of board games as well as puzzles that appeal to teens as younger kids. Our main focus is imagination as opposed to electronics.
Vassallo: Are stuffed animals still in demand?
Kincaid: Absolutely. Plush, stuffed animals remain very popular.
Vassallo: As to your two daughters, what toys intrigued them?
Kincaid: Olivia is now 20 and is majoring in communications at Fordham in New York City. As a child, she gravitated to art and coloring. She had almost a zoo of stuffed animals plus her American Girl dolls. Caroline is 15 and attends high school here in Oxford. Like her mom, as a child, she enjoyed playing “dress up.” And starting this summer, she will begin working at the store. My twin boys, now 13, (William and Michael) also had a strong imagination when they were very young (as they do now) and utilized this gift to complement the various toys and games they had. My four children definitely relived some of my youth through their toys and games.
Vassallo: What do you see as the next revolution of toys?
Kincaid: Electronics will continue to remain huge. I envision imagination play making a significant comeback. The vendor, Melissa and Doug, has a program “Take Back Childhood,” which showcases a day in which parents and children can sample toys and see what the kids gravitate to. We did this in September and will again this spring.
Vassallo: Speaking of spring, don’t you have a special visitor arriving?
Kincaid: On March 31, the Easter Bunny arrives. Prior to his arrival, we are showcasing the “Bunny Buffet.” With a $25 purchase from the Bunny Buffet, we will give the customer a hand-painted, personalized Easter pail.
Vassallo: Is there a toy that jumps out that would be extra exciting for younger boys?
Kincaid: What comes to mind immediately is “Space Invaders,” which resembles in some respects Pac-Man. The $25.99 toy is a fun game that kids can take in the car with them. This has been a very popular item!
Vassallo: How did you become interested in toys to this degree, that you would focus your adult, professional life in this area?
Kincaid: When the opportunity presented itself to acquire Treehouse, I wanted the store to remain and have the ability to share some of the fun things that made my youth special. Sharing joy with others and utilizing my imagination in doing so greatly appeals to me.
Vassallo: Speaking of “special”, how does this adjective relate to Treehouse Toys?
Kincaid: There is a feeling upon entering the store that brings about a calmness and fun feeling. The variety of our selections appeals to all types of children. There is no pressure to purchase whatsoever. We offer free gift wrapping, and parking is always easy.
*Footnote: This July, Jennifer will return to her childhood locale, Atlanta, where she will attend “America’s Mart” to preview this coming Christmas season’s new and exciting toys.

Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.
For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com

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