Life is busy for Sequim retailer with store anniversary, baby’s birthday

SEQUIM — The giraffes are getting taller.

The baby’s growing fast.

And Mom has a lot going on this weekend.

Megan Schmidlkofer, co-owner of Tiny’z Toy Chest at 149 W. Washington St., will celebrate the first anniversary of the store along with the first birthday of her youngest, Chloe, on Saturday.

The packed toy shop will be open just from 10 a.m. until noon, “so people can come in and get a pink cupcake,” Schmidlkofer said.

At noon, the Irrigation Festival Grand Parade will start floating and marching down Washington Street, so the Tiny’z family will close up shop for the weekend.

And in fact, Chloe’s birthday is May 9, which this year is Mother’s Day.

It made sense, though, to celebrate a day early since Tiny’z isn’t open Sundays.

The past year has been a strenuous one for the Schmidlkofer family. Megan and her husband, David, decided to open their long-dreamed-of store after David, a general contractor, watched the recession undercut the construction industry.

The couple began planning for the shop in 2008, when they had just two children: David Jr., who’s known as Tiny, and Isaiah, or Izzy, who they adopted from Ethiopia right around the time Megan became pregnant with Chloe.

So these days, the family works and plays together. They’re close: Tiny is 3, and Izzy — who put the “z” in Tiny’z — is 2 ½, and Chloe is on the doorstep of 1.

“There’s never a dull moment,” Megan said.

Chloe performs quality control tests on the sock monkeys, while the boys examine the picture books, the Calico Critters, the Soulmate Socks and the Automoblox.

Six-foot giraffe

Two other hits with the children are the little rubber giraffe, a teething toy, and the 6-foot plush giraffe standing near the front window.

This one is about life-size for a young animal, Megan said as she lifted Izzy onto its back.

“We’ve sold a few of these,” she added, though the most recent giraffe to leave the store was just 5 feet in height.

Opening an independent toy shop in the middle of a recession has been no walk in the park.

But Megan accentuates the positive, saying that Christmas was “amazing.”

Holiday time and summertime are “our two best seasons,” she said, adding she’s emerged from the three-month lull that follows Christmas.

David, meanwhile, has left construction and now works at the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula along with helping at Tiny’z.

The family looks forward to participating in the Dungeness Kids’ Fair at Carrie Blake Park on June 5, an event hosted by Susan Baritelle of the Dungeness Kids Co., another independent store offering children’s games, equipment, clothing and toys.

Baritelle and Megan routinely send each other customers.

“If somebody is looking for something I don’t have, I call over there” to Tiny’z, Baritelle said.

“I do the same thing,” said Megan, adding she and Baritelle are careful not to carry the same brands.

“There’s no reason to do that,” Megan said. “This is a small town” and as local entrepreneurs, the two women see no point in cutthroat competition.

The Dungeness Kids Co., in the QFC shopping center at 990 E. Washington St., has seen several nearby stores close since it opened in August 2008.

But the children’s clothing and gear business has picked up, said Baritelle.

“We’ve turned around in last several months,” she said.

2010’s first weeks were wintry, but “March and April have been a lot better.”


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

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