Crystal Newman stocks her shelves with new toys then pauses to warmly greet her first customer of the day by name. Their conversation moves quickly from catching up on how the family is doing to a plea for help in choosing a birthday gift for their six-year-old grandson. That’s when Crystal springs into action and lives her passion – helping her customers find that perfect gift to celebrate their favorite kiddo.
Crystal’s journey out of corporate America and into small town America began when her family purchased Bloomsbury Lane Toy Shoppe four years ago. Not only was the shop right around the corner from her house, but Crystal was eager to add more fun to her work day so she took the leap and hasn’t looked back since. As a new toy store owner, she didn’t keep the fun to herself either.
“My son was eight when we first bought the toy store,” she said. “It has been so much fun sharing this experience with him. He has grown a lot and so have his responsibilities. He has gone from Official Toy Tester to Assistant Buyer to Media Consultant. He may become owner one day!”
The shop is rooted in magical fun. (In fact, its name was inspired by the section of London where Wendy, Michael and John lived in Peter Pan.) Bloomsbury Lane has an eclectic selection of educational toys, games, crafts, dolls, stuffed animals, LEGOs and more. But it is Crystal’s personalized service and complimentary gift wrapping that gives your shopping experience that personal touch you won’t find scrolling through Amazon. According to Crystal, being a successful small business owner requires an important skill that she says she’s perfected over the years: listening. Whether it’s listening to her customers or to her vendor’s recommendations on toy trends, it’s the key to turning a first-time customer into a long-time customer, something that’s particularly important in a time when many small businesses are struggling due to the pandemic.
“We were incredibly humbled by the support we received during the shutdown and after re-opening,” Crystal said. “Our heart was full and we knew we could get through this. When people buy locally, they have a direct impact on our community. We hire friends and neighbors, give internships and volunteer opportunities to our high school kids, we donate to the kids’ charities and support our fellow local merchants down the street.”
But Bloomsbury isn’t all that Lancaster has to offer shoppers. The village has become more of a destination over the years with the opening of businesses like Lancaster Coffee Company, Dark Forest Chocolates and Josie’s on Central that have joined legacy anchors like The New York Store.
So, get out there and shop local!