Avoiding her vegetables, Ava excused herself from dinner to go play in her kitchen. By the time we wrapped up with the dishes, I realized that she had expunged every play food stored in the back corner of our hutch. Cleaning up the mess, it dawned on me that the items could be organized better, sorting out the fruits and vegetables and so on... when Ava blurted out, "would you like to buy some apples please?" in a funny accent.
And just like that, our very own grocery store was open for business!
Our shop sold pizza - by the slice, so I ordered one with mushrooms... I needed a cake for the birthday party I was having... pretzels for Aaron... and of course, a large chocolate chip cookie for Noah...
Paper money from lost gameboards finally found life again, and were shuffled in and out of a ringing register... Ava bagged my groceries in small brown paper bags with handles. I loved how a cleaning spree turned quickly into a themed play activity, and we added items to our store as we went along... My most favorite part was when it was my turn to play shopkeeper, and I told Ava that her credit card didn't work.
Me: Your card isn't working.
Me: Because there's no money on it.
Ava: Oh [takes the teapot and taps it on the card] Now there is money on it!
Oh, how I love to play store....
Opening Your Own Store - Our Tips:
1. You don't need much space to buy and sell. We actually dedicated one cabinet from our kitchen hutch, suitable to her height, to store her groceries, and then placed baskets on the shelf to help her sort and display. Plus, it's a lot easier to see what we do have so that when I'm out thrifting, I won't buy the same pieces again.
2. My Dad actually scored this register from curbside! in perfect condition. We saw the exact same model at Lakeshore for over $20. It has a built-in calculator, so counting is made easy. If you don't want to splurge right now, jewelry boxes with pull out drawers and a large-faced calculator will also do the trick.
3. Reuse small paper gift bags and stash these in a drawer close by. Or better yet, craft a small fabric tote they can use for shopping "trips" over and over again...
4. We love playing with wooden food - the texture and size make playtime fun and the nostalgic and lasting quality for parents - are comforting. If you're looking to start a new collection, Melissa & Doug make fun wooden pantry goods to play with and perishable foods to practice cutting. Oh, and don't forget the pizza! Since these products have been around a long time, you may luck out and find sets also at a second-hand store.
5. Make some signs! Bring some creativity into your shop time by hanging a chalkboard announcing today's sales.
Playing "store" didn't require us to buy anything - just a unique storage space and open imagination. We love how we can just open/close the store without having to dismantle anything - and cleaning up is part of the store play, where we unbag our groceries and display them neatly for our next customers. We're looking forward to getting more ideas and creating things for it as we go along.
Good luck with your new business!
Mom & Ava - Owners