Aric Klar and his son Ezra, a certified toy tester.
Aric Klar and his son Ezra, a certified toy tester. (Courtesy of Toyology)

As they look back on 10 years in business, the Klars never anticipated owning toy stores — but it was a natural transition.

After 10 years in business, local Jewish-owned toy store chain Toyology Toys is sticking to the same goal: to remain in the Klar family and to continue being there for the community.

“We want to be a staple in everyone’s home,” says Nori Klar, 62, founder of Toyology Toys. “We don’t want to be the biggest company around.”

Launched in 2011 at their inaugural West Bloomfield location by Nori Klar and her sons Aric and Jonathan Klar, Toyology Toys now includes two more locations in Royal Oak and Bloomfield Hills. Their fourth location in Rochester Hills ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, unable to survive the crisis like thousands of other brick-and-mortar businesses across the U.S.

However, this didn’t put a dent in the Klar family: They kept Toyology Toys going, despite the setback. 

“We appreciate everyone who supported our business over the past few months to make sure we’re one of those businesses that never went away,” Aric Klar, 32, says. “We’ve been through a lot over the past 10 years, but this was the most internally rewarding 14 months for us because of the unbelievable support that we saw from each one of these communities.”

The Klar family will celebrate that support during Toyology Toys’ 10-year-anniversary, which includes festivities this July. Though the Klars can’t yet reveal the exact details, Nori Klar says customers can expect some kind of birthday party, goodie bags, discounts and other surprises.

Aric and Jonathan Klar do some toy-testing of their own.
Aric and Jonathan Klar do some toy-testing of their own. Courtesy of Toyology
Pharmacies to Toys

As they look back on 10 years in business, the Klars never anticipated owning toy stores — but it was a natural transition. Prior to Toyology Toys, the family operated a chain of local pharmacies. One location at 14 Mile and Middlebelt Road in Farmington Hills carried a toy section with four feet of Beanie Babies and 3,500 square feet of toys for education and brain development.

This section inspired Aric Klar into his college years. While attending Eastern Michigan University, he gave a presentation for a business class about a toy store. The idea clicked, and the next day Aric called his mother, Nori, asking why they hadn’t gone into such a business.

Nori Klar took her son’s idea into consideration, and the Klar family decided to make a small investment into an existing toy store in West Bloomfield, now Toyology Toys’ flagship location. “It was very outdated, and we had to come in and fix it,” Aric Klar recalls. “We came in with new lights, inventory, people and new vibes in general.”

For the first 365 days, Aric and Nori Klar worked at the store seven days a week building up their business. They learned how to capitalize on trends, buy the correct products, work with the right vendors and streamline cash flow. “After the first year, it was very clear that this could be profitable,” Aric Klar says, “but also something that could be fun.”

After Aric Klar finished college, the family chose to expand the business. They opened a location in Royal Oak and built an online shopping platform to keep up with digital shopping trends. “We knew how important that was,” Aric Klar explains. “Ever since that point, we’ve just kept evolving the business.”

In its evolution, the Klar family says they stick to two main principles: putting the customer first and making sure that everyone is comfortable. “When people think toys, they think kids,” Aric Klar continues. “But when we think of toys, we think the brain.”

Toyology Toys sees customers of all ages shopping in their stores, including both kids and adults who have autism. They also see adults who are navigating memory loss and are turning to toys for their memory-boosting properties. “These toys became a staple for education,” Aric Klar says. “Once that staple became clear, I think we officially became a household name.”

Nori Klar
Nori Klar Courtesy of Toyology
Personalized Shopping 

Building on this trust, the Klar family also turned to wholesale and distribution of trend-based products to make sure the right toys always get to the right people. They also rely on their in-person shopping experience to set them apart from the competition, including Amazon.

“I know it’s really fast for people to shop online because purchases arrive quickly, but when people are going online to find things, it’s time-consuming,” Nori Klar explains. “People walk into our store and say, ‘I have a 2-year-old girl who loves pretend play, and I’d like to spend $30.”

Nori Klar says the staff are trained to take any request such as this one and help customers pick out the perfect products. “They’re out the door in 10 minutes with a beautifully-wrapped gift,” she continues. “They always come back and say, ‘You just knew what to get.’ We have personalized service, we gift-wrap, we ship and deliver. We cover all the avenues, and you can shop local.”  

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