where the people making them are receiving a fair wage. That’s just the
kind of business we wanted to have. We didn’t want to make money on
the backs of other people’s suffering.
Is it exciting? I mean, there’s always some joy working in a store and seeing
people come in and be really happy, but is it a little more immediate with kids?
It’s really a privilege having the store because the children that come in
here are completely delighted and engaged. Our customers are great. The
shop seems to inspire our grown up customers to become very playful
too which is fun. I have to say, we hadn’t factored that response. The
kitchen area is just endlessly entertaining to watch. The younger kids are
just doing some basic cooking or washing things in the sink, and then
older kids do these very elaborate restaurant games and it’s clear they are
sophisticated diners. They’ll say, “I said, I think I’d like that blanched.”
Or, “Oh, I would like some pineapple sorbet.”
There are all kinds of toys out there now that kind of do the work for kids, but
do you feel like a generation of kids’ imaginations has gone away?
I think it’s just a question of how much time we as adults allow children to have that kind of open-ended imaginative playtime, because
life is so evermore scheduled. We weren’t sure when we opened the
store what the reception would be or if there were other people thinking about childhood in that way. We’ve been really pleased to find
customers all over the country who are really looking towards these
kinds of toys again, and realizing the onslaught of sensory
overload that has become part of cultural life for kids.
We wanted a name that would reflect some kind of a seed or
something that was about growth, and that also maybe reflected that we were going to be carrying a lot of wooden toys and
toys made from natural materials, so sort of locating it in that
realm. Oak trees grow in most parts of the world, and acorns are
the seed of the oak tree. It’s a very strong tree and so that was in
the running for a while. And then we sort of remembered how
kids love to collect acorns, so that also seemed like a good reference to have. We’ve been happy with the name. Kids love it, and
they always remember it. And children bring us acorns in the fall,
which is really sweet.
What do you think is next? What do you hope the store can “grow into”?
We’re pretty committed to growing it as just one location, and growing the online business and the shop that way. People have asked us
to franchise in other cities, and people have asked us to open other
shops in New York, and, I think for me, part of what’s special about
it is that there is only one, and that it’s very cared for. And we both
do other things. Diane still makes films, and I’m a painter, so we’ll
How old is Kaya now? Is he still interested in toys?
He’s 22. There are still things he has from the store, like the
National Geographic globe. He just graduated from college as a
geography major. We actually do have a number of customers who
find things at Acorn for themselves or their grown-up friends, as
well as the children in their lives.