KELLOGG, Minn. (WCCO) — Christmas is less than two weeks away, so I figured it was high-time to do some shopping.
And while Santa may do some of the heavy lifting, there are probably a few toys left on your list. You guys sent me in search of Minnesota’s Best Toy Store.
Your votes sent me southeast of the cities to Lark Toys in Kellogg.
“We value people playing together, toys that last a really long time,” said Miranda Gray-Burlingame, who owns the shop with her family.
That lasting value starts with hand-crafted wooden toys — a hallmark at Lark since it opened in 1983.
“We’ve had people come and say: ‘We got this toy 20 years ago, and the dog chewed the wheel off. Can you fix it, because I want to give it to my owngrandkid?’ And we always will,” Gray-Burlingame said.
Tim Monson has been a toy maker at Larks for 27 years.
“You take a raw piece of wood and turn it into something special like that — that’s what it’s about, for me at least,” he said.
Everywhere you look in in the shop, you’ll see something amazing crafted out of wood.
The carousel, which took nine years to carve, is the heart of the store.
“I remember one beautiful woman who the whole time rode side saddle going, ‘I’m 99, I’m 99, I’m 99, and I’m on a carousel,'” Gray-Burlingame said.
But the carousel is just one corner of Lark’s sprawling 20,000 square feet.
There’s also a museum of toys from decades past, and room after room filled with puzzles, games, marbles, stuffed animals, and dolls.
And did I mention they make their own fudge?
Gray-Burlingame and her husband, along with her parents, took over Lark in 2008. And on most days, they’re all there — together.
“We are still shocked and awed many days just at the ability that we have to work together, to be together, to be in this fun environment and to share it with so many people,” she said.
For more information on Lark Toys, click here.