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Toys for the fun and the learning

By Staff | Feb 26, 2010

Laura Turman, owner of One Two Kangaroo Toy Store on German Street, stocks the shelves with educational games. Photo by Alex Lemley/Chronicle

As you walk into One Two Kangaroo at 122 W. German St., a hang gliding monkey greets you from the ceiling, and a lion sits patiently staring at passersby.

At the front desk a box of the common cold and malaria are stored in a plastic bin.

But don’t worry, they’re bean-stuffed toys in the shape of molecular and cell parts for chidren to learn more about the world of science.

Toys like this line walls of Shepherdstown’s own toy store. Laura Turman, owner since November 2008, is passionate about bringing unique toys to the area that can’t be found anywhere else. Each product she selects to carry in her store serves numerous purposes, the two she is most concerned with being the joy of playing and the process of learning.

Turman, being a mother of two young boys herself, knows the pains of toys taking over a home.

“I base the inventory out of catalogs from smaller, specialized toy companies. Toys that are environmentally sage, recycled, or have an old-fashioned, vintage appeal really interest me as a parent. And whether the toy is safe and I’d want it in my home helps me choose,” she says.

She also puts into account children with special needs. Her youngest son, in need of special playthings to stimulate his senses into learning and developing, is a big inspiration as she orders these dual-purpose toys.

Children like her toddler are what made her realize that play is necessary to learn and that every child needs playtime. As she describes it, the movement, the trying, learning and failing of play time are the parts of the recreational process she aims for.

“My store is an eclectic mix of toys and games designed to stimulate a child’s mind and creativity . . . this is a time period to target their mind’s, it’s brief and it’s challenging and they need that kind of play,” she explains.

And with that kind of vision for her store, Turman has built a following in Shepherdstown.

Parents come in when they’re expecting their first child, and she says what a pleasure it is to watch the family grow and progress and to get to know the child personally and see the development.

Many times patrons are buying a present for a child’s birthday party. Turman can help them by listing off what she knows the child already has and can tell them of the type of toys they will love.

“I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about a toy store . . . the wonder of a kid walking out with a toy . . . something . . . that makes it so special,” Turman says.

The parents, with their stories or their frazzled looks, and the kids touching, feeling, growing and continually coming back for a different kind of toy is what has Turman – who started out with a degree in international trade – enjoying the life of a toy shop owner.