Neighborhood: West Village
Type of Place: Kids
I enter the West Village's Kido--a light, spacious, friendly, and peaceful spot for toys--on a mild early spring afternoon and get busy checking out the wares and taking notes. I don't yet know that soon some boisterous and enthusiastic "market researchers" will enter as well, rendering the place a bit less peaceful but also giving a clear glimpse of what it's all about.- Pamela Grossman; March 30, 2009
I'm drawn in by the fun, bright-colored art on the walls, the neat layout and high ceilings, and a trace of interesting-sounding music I can hear from the street. And with so many "Going out of business" signs around, I'm cheered to see this one doing well. Kids don't especially understand recessions and or want to hear about them; a 6 year old is going to want a birthday party, with cake and presents, regardless of corporate budget cuts. I share many of these sentiments myself, so this is a shop I can put my heart into right now.
Inside, a cute knit carrot with a rattle inside (and complete with dainty greens) seems quite ingenious: Get kids in the early habit of chewing on carrot-lookalikes, and then, when they're old enough, they'll go without a fight for the real thing. It's worth a shot, at least; and this toy ($10) is made by the admirable Yellow Label Kids line, which manufactures its goods abroad via fair-trade living wages (the carrot comes from Bangladesh). I also love the "123 New York" picture book ($7.95), which lets tots count up such native attractions and icons as bridges, taxis, pizzas, subway cars, baseballs, and even water towers. Barefoot Dreams' fleece hoodies in pink or blue ($55) feel so yummily soft that I can imagine kids bounding into them in the morning; but I'm thinking it might be best to have more than one on hand, to avoid wash-day meltdowns. And Schylling's set of 8 multicolored metal bells ($40), each with a different tone, would seem a great addition to any mini-band.
I'm examining a cute wooden 4-in-1 puzzle (six rectangular pieces, four sides each, to complete jungle images of a butterfly, frog, parrot, or leopard) when two moms, two excited little girls, and one even more vocal little boy, ages four to seven or so, come tumbling through the front door (in the excitement, I forget to write down the puzzle price, though I found the pricetags here to be within reason overall). I take this is an opportunity to see what the kids go for, and it shakes out this way:
The girls have a blast rocking on the floor in little plastic round-bottomed seats from Bilibo ($30). All three kids are quite impressed with a big, ornate Playmobil castle ($240); but all three are likewise interested in the more affordable "Ghost Pirate" Playmobil figure, at a more affordable $5. The boy happily zips around on a wooden big-wheel type of thing, but I wouldn't dream of interrupting his ride to check its price. Among a few other things (I'm trying to walk the delicate line between reporting and intruding), I see that he takes home a neat-looking wind up bug toy--it's a big hit with him, and his mom likes both the toy and the price ($2.50).
The non-plastic options, the fair-trade oriented companies, and the creativity-encouraging offerings are a great reason for grown-ups to check out Kido. But my visit showed me that kiddos themselves will love this place because it's truly kid-friendly and because its goods are, bottom line, a whole lot of fun.