One morning on her way to work as a Montessori schoolteacher, Amee Whittaker passed a Nicollet Avenue storefront with a “For Rent” sign. A stream-of-consciousness revelation followed:
“Gepetto and Pinocchio popped into my head, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have this little wooden toy shop in Minneapolis?’ Then a thought flowed into my head, ‘How would a business like that sustain itself?’ Then I thought, ‘What about sustainable toys?’”
And Green Goober was born.
Whittaker’s toy store at 5411 Nicollet Ave. S., which opened last month, sells a variety of toys made from wood, recycled milk jugs and other plastics, and an array of other sources. All toys are manufactured with sustainable processes and packaged using minimal materials.
Whittaker knows toys.
She’s been a mom for over a decade and has worked as both a nanny and a preschool teacher. But when she decided to open her store, she didn’t want to stop at just understanding the final product.
Whittaker spent two years researching toy manufacturers, searching for good fits for the store. She focused on places that not only made sustainable toys, but practiced what their products preached: Energy efficiency, eco-friendly manufacturing processes, donating percentages of profits to social causes.
“It’s pretty cool that these companies are investing all this time and money into putting out a great product that we can use and pass down from generation to generation,” she said.
The toys are largely aimed for younger children — ages 3 to 6 — though Whittaker plans to expand her inventory early next year to include options for children through teenagers.
Green Goober is Whittaker’s first business, and she works at the store full-time. That means her three children often get off the afternoon school bus near the store and wander in for a while.
Sometimes they help out, but mostly they play. Every time they came in, they found something different to explore, and that’s when Whittaker realized Green Goober’s potential.
And realized that her children were the best salespeople she could get.
Green Goober is open Monday–Friday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m, Saturdays 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Call 823-2222 or visit www.greengoober.com for more information.
Swaddling clothes and more for the urban baby
A clothing-and-much-more store for infants, Punkin Pie, recently opened at the intersection of Nicollet Avenue & Diamond Lake Road.
It has “everything you would ever need for a baby or kid,” said Stacy Elkins, who owns and works at the store along with her husband, Khaled Salem.
Elkins said her shop can satisfy needs of a wide range of customers, from those looking for basic clothing and supply brands to those looking for boutique-style and one-of-a-kind items, the “kind of stuff that you’re not going to see everywhere.”
Punkin Pie features clothing lines for infants, toddlers and young children up to age 6, including eco-minded items made from organic cotton and environmentally friendly processes. It also sells handmade wooden toys, stuffed animals and other items. Any item can be giftwrapped and shipped at a customer’s request.
Punkin Pie is located at 5454 Nicollet Ave. S. Its hours are 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Monday–Saturday, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sundays. Call 822-0203 for more information.
Moshi moshi, sushi
A new sushi restaurant in the Lyn-Lake area, Tiger Sushi, is expected to open later this month on the ground floor of the Murals of LynLake apartment complex (just north of the Midtown Greenway on Lyndale Avenue).
It will be the second location for the restaurant — the first is thriving in its Mall of America digs, said Chris Katayama, one of Tiger Sushi’s owners.
Katayama said he and the other owners chose the Lyn-Lake area because of its proximity to other sushi places (like Fuji-Ya at Lake Street and Garfield Avenue, and Tango Sushi in Calhoun Square) and because of the neighborhood’s vibrancy and high foot traffic.
He said the new 130-seat Tiger Sushi will have a full liquor license, along with outdoor patio seating.