Kinoko Kids toy store opens at 38th & Grand

Ingrid Johnson (l) peers through a peephole while Francine plays at Kinoko Kids.

A toymaker and a vintage dealer have opened a new toy shop in Kingfield.

The store carries Japanese novelty toys, vintage toys like the Fisher Price 3 Men in a Tub, and Monchhichi dolls that became popular in the ‘80s.

“We are single-handedly repopulating Minneapolis with Monchhichi,” co-owner Erika Olson Gross said.

Stacked on shelves and peg boards are foam ice cream poppers, wooden animals made by the German company Holztiger and racks of vintage clothing. Customers may find Olson Gross hand-sewing her own toys at the back of the shop in a space that will also hold group workshops.

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“Good toys are open-ended,” said Olson Gross, adding that the blocks at her house are never put away.

Her own kids enjoy making block and cardboard houses for the shop’s toy mice, made by Maileg. One section of the shop is tailored for kids who love helping their parents, featuring toy brooms and garden tools.

The shopkeepers met while working together at Origami Restaurant 20 years ago, and they have five boys between the two of them ranging in ages from three to 12. Olson Gross works as an artist and art teacher at Lake Country School and lives in Kingfield. Tammy Tanaka Johnson lives in Linden Hills and collects vintage clothing, specializing in women’s and children’s vintage.

“There seemed to be a hole in terms of local offerings for toys,” Olson Gross said, adding that online shopping isn’t always adequate. “I feel like people want to do fun shopping, especially for something joyful like buying a toy for a child.”

Kinoko Kids is based at 314 W. 38th St. in a former interior design storefront near Peter Pan Dry Cleaners.

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