Business Q&A with Paula Bolte of Imaginations Toy & Furniture Co.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly named the store. The text and headline reflect the correct name of the business.
Name: Paula Bolte (the Toylady)
Family: Husband, Keith; son, Taylor
Business Started: We’ll be Sweet 16 on March 17.
Location: 1531 S. Main St., Blacksburg, next to our sister store Annie Kay’s Main Street Market.
What the business does/sells: We sell fun, unique, educational, superior quality, totally awesome kid’s toys and furniture.
Q: How did you get into the business?
A: We bought an existing store, Imagination Station. It was located in Bonomo’s Plaza before we moved to our current location.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about the business?
A: Who wouldn’t love to spend every day in a toy store? We play, learn, test drive, assemble and try out each new toy, craft and game we bring in. I love researching new toys, trying to find new, unusual playthings for our amazing customers. I love merchandising displays around the store, creating inviting, hands-on displays that intrigue and inspire our customers. We all enjoy guiding our customers through the store, asking about the kids in their lives, and finding the perfect toys for them. I really enjoy wrapping our toys as gifts, with colorful paper and fluffy, curly bows. But, my most favorite part of our business is the joy I hear and experience with the kids that come in. I can’t wait to get their hugs, hear their laughter and experience the stories they tell while playing with all the toys we have out to play with. It is amazing to think that we may provide a child with the tools to fuel their future passion, for example, blocks that inspire an architect, a science kit for a future award winning chemist or a craft kit to influence a designer.
Q: What do you think the keys to your success have been?
A: We are still around almost 16 years later for several reasons. Number 1- our dedication to keeping a fun, educational selection of games, puzzles, craft kits, and toys that focus on a child’s imagination. Number 2- our amazing staff. These ladies strive daily to educate themselves on our products, offer specific suggestions to our customers, and make each child feel welcome and at home in our store. Number 3- Each and every child and their adults that walk in our door. We are so blessed to have amazing, loyal customers that continue to support us year after year. We offer complimentary gift wrapping! (Perfect for those stressful trips in 15 minutes before a birthday party!)
Q: In what ways does your company give back to the community?
A: Because our community gives so much to us, we do our best to give back. Through fundraisers in the store, we have raised money for Preschools, nonprofit organizations, classrooms, and the emerging Children’s Museum of Blacksburg. We offer product donations to groups needing door prizes or auctions items. Plus, we have set up our ‘Donation Station’ in the store. This area provides info and donation containers for local organizations, like the Humane Society, the Children’s Museum and Blacksburg Fire Department. We encourage our customers to help us support these nonprofit groups.
Q: What might people be surprised to learn about your business?
A: Some folks may not know we have a fun furniture gallery upstairs, full of flexible beds, accessories, and bean bags. Also, our business family includes Annie Kay’s Main Street Market. With Annie Kay’s next door, we strive to help families live a healthy, playful life.
Q: What do you like about having a business in the New River Valley?
A: We are grateful to work in a community where people not only appreciate, but support locally owned businesses. We have great customers and we are surrounded by amazing local businesses that support one another. Being the Toylady in this area is an honor!
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627