The Golden Apple closed on March 28th, 2015. We had been a mostly thriving business for 36 years. The easy answer is Amazon killed us. That's a part of it, but there's much more that goes in to destroying independent businesses. The most important thing to remember is that most small businesses are a dream made real. They reflect the personality and aspirations of the owner. They have all the personality facets that humans have. A good small business owner works hard to keep the good parts of their personality facing the public and the bad parts hidden. They need people to like them. Shoppers have become so used to corporate and franchise operations that they don't understand that when they enter an independent store, they are coming face to face with a human. A small business has feelings and a pulse. Dealing with other humans is messy. It often involves empathy, and empathy isn't something everyone has. There almost seems to be less of it in the world every day. To buy from a small business; to maybe spend more than you might have; to interact with a human to complete the purchase; all require a calculation and an expenditure of empathy. A purchase at a small business means another human (or several humans) will have money to pay for the things they need. They help us, we help them. The internet lets us avoid that interaction. There isn't anyone at the other end of that fiber optic cable. There is just the thing we want. I loved interacting with my customers. The world needs that interaction. We'll need to find a new way to make it happen. But small businesses can't wait. They are human and have a pulse, and they are dying.
We've started collecting ideas for a Holi festival at the store - we have lots of powdered tempera, and a color fight could make for some beautiful fun! What are your ideas?
Frozen Day at the Golden Apple!
It's not easy being an independent retail store these days. In the last 8 years, 80% of the School Supply stores in the US have closed. Golden Apple is one of only 2 stores left in all of Northern California. If we're to stay open for our 3rd generation of customers we need your help - for a start, here are 5 simple things that would be a big help to us: Let parents know we have a laminator - teachers know this, but parents don't. We charge about 1/5 as much as Kinkos, and parents love having "masterpieces" laminated. We have the best flashcards - the ones that really reinforce memorization and understanding. Science Display Boards - the kids need them, we have them, and so many parents find our store just to buy this item. When Science Fair time comes around, let parents know we're here. Summer Workbooks. Parents know they need something to help their kids during the summer. Remind them the Golden Apple has exactly what they need. Before you assign a specific book, or a reading strip, or a pencil grip - send us an email and we'll make sure we have enough in stock - and make sure your students get the right item! Thanks for your support - we really do appreciate it!
We Beat Toys R Us!
In a development that has shocked the retail world, The Golden Apple Learning Store has announced they will be opening a full 36 hours before ToysRUs during the critical shopping season this year. Store owner John MacDougall is certain that by opening at 10 am on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, he can get a jump on the big box stores. "We always open at 10 am - and this way, people can shop and enjoy Thanksgiving with their families". By being open from 10 am to 5 pm on the day before Thanksgiving, and the day after, MacDougall feels he can be closed on the actual holiday without anyone missing out. "There's plenty of time to shop, Thanksgiving is a holiday, so we're closed. Why would any store be open?" The Golden Apple is open on Wednesday from 10 to 5, we'll be CLOSED on Thanksgiving, and we'll be open again on Friday! Enjoy your day!
We had a great day today - it was Neighborhood Toy Store Day - an annual event! Thanks to the families that came out to support us - we appreciate it!
A few years ago we wrote about Toys for Makers. We started looking for toys that inspired kids to explore, to construct and deconstruct. Many toys, and most video games tend to celebrate someone else's creativity. They allow you to immerse yourself in a toy or game that may have play value, but doesn't encourage any creative input. Kids need to explore their creativity, and we need to find them toys that let that happen. We're updating our Toys for Makers section of our online catalog with some of our latest finds. We'll also be using this space to introduce you to some of the best. Today's toy is for the youngest Makers. It's not just for building, it's for observing and critical thinking. The toy is called Bunny Peek a Boo , but don't let the cute name fool you. BPB is a challenge for 2 year olds, and we've been dragooning every little customer we see into playing (2 year olds are very enthusiastic game players!) They understand the challenge and love solving the "puzzle", then flipping the card to see what's next.
Neighborhood Toy Store Day is November 9th
We're getting ready for our big toy event - Neighborhood Toy Store Day! It's a national event, and toy stores all over North America, and the world are celebrating. The Golden Apple is hosting two of our favorite local companies: Just Jump It and Blue Orange Games and we'll be having contests and games of skill, along with a visit by Froggy. The event starts at 11am and activities go on until 3pm.
A New Way to Shop
We've created a SquareUp Store to make things easier for you this holiday season. It's a slimmed down version of our web site, with quick and easy shopping and payment via Square. Follow this link to Snap Circuits Sound to see how it works: Snap Circuits SOUND on Square Market
The Best Toys for Kids 2013 have arrived at the Golden Apple - and we are ready to tell you why they rock! Check them out on our web store - or even better - come play with them at the Golden Apple
Win a Classroom Decorator Package from CTP and the Golden Apple! Would you like to have the freshest, brightest classroom at your school? Enter our Classroom Dazzle Contest. One lucky teacher will win a deluxe classroom dazzle package - a starter package for the 1st month of school and two more make-overs during the school year! Contest info is here
Our summer classes are shaping up - we have a schedule here. Classes are 3 hours, and the cost is $65 each session. There's a discount for a 4 session block. We're doing them for kids 6-8 and 9-11. It gets a little complicated, but we're trying to have something for everyone! Check them out and tell your friends!
Our friend Mary from Kazoodles in Vancouver, WA went on a family trip to Disneyland. What does a toy store owner think about when visiting the Magic Kingdom? I couldn’t help wondering, as we Yo-hoed through Pirates of the Caribbean and screamed through Space Mountain, what childhood was like for the Imagineers who took Disney’s dream and made it happen. What did they play with? Read Mary's whole post on the Kazoodle's blog!
Birthday Parties at the Golden Apple
We've started doing Science birthday parties at the Golden Apple. It's something we've been planning for a long time, but we wanted to get our party room perfect before we started hosting events. Doing Birthday parties is a natural extension for us, as we have tons of resources and years of experience entertaining kids. Our parties have a core of science - usually several hands-on activities and a dazzle-dazzle demonstration. The science is solid, but the emphasis is fun. We're also including a story time with every party - because we're really good at presenting stories and the kids love it. If you've got a birthday coming up, check us out - ages 3-10, and we love doing theme parties - so bring us your Angry Birds, your Jedi Knights and your Brave warriors and we'll build a science party around them!
My Favorite Books
I was asked to write a post on my favorite books for the Woohoo Factor Website. Here it is for my blog readers... My Favorite Books John MacDougall, The Golden Apple Learning Store The Golden Apple began selling books for kids 34 years ago. When we started, we sold mostly to teachers, and teachers bought books as tools. Children’s books bring lessons to life for teachers, and create a great way to create “teachable moments”. Each book on my list of favorites is a book with a lesson. (Many of them have rodents in them too, but that’s incidental!) I learned so much from books growing up, and I’m glad I have them around me still. The Golden Apple Learning Store opened in 1979 as a Teacher Supply store. Over the years they’ve loosened up and expanded to toys, books, music and almost anything else that expands the brain. The store is located in Pleasanton Ca, just outside of San Francisco. Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame My favorite books starts with a classic. This is a read aloud, as kids old enough to read it on their own will dismiss it as too babyish. The wisdom in this book will stay with you throughout your life. Each character, Mole, Rat, Badger, Otter., even Toad, presents a blueprint for how to make sense of the world, told in the most gentle way possible. How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball - David Shannon Kids leave picture books behind way too early - they miss out on the power and drama of illustration. When doing book talks at schools, I always bring this book along to share with 5th and 6th graders. It never fails to hook them. Georgie is a rebel, and by saving baseball, he saves the world. The Important book - Margaret Wise Brown This is a book for budding poets, but it is not a poetry book. You will learn about grass and clouds, not the science of things, but the poetry. It’s easy to read, and has simple illustrations, but the important thing is it’s a book for poets. Mouse Soup - Arnold Lobel Trickster tales are a fundamental part of every culture. Honesty is one of the values we hope kids embrace, but a person with a good story will go far, and that story doesn’t always have to be true, especially when your life is at stake! There is a whole batch of these leveled readers from the 60’s Little Bear, Frog and Toad, Frances that have a humor and sensibility adults will appreciate as they read along. Chester’s Way - Kevin Henkes Each individual has their own way of doing things. Chester and Wilson learn that fast when they meet Lilly. It’s not easy to stay in a rut when life is full of so many possibilities! All of Kevin Henkes titles succeed by presenting kids with very real situations, at school and home. The Mystery of Harris Burdick - Chris Van Allsburg Sometimes imagination just needs a nudge. This writer’s portfolio of title, first line, and image gives your imagination a hard shove! Many books end with the reader wanting more, but each page in this book forces you to want more, and create it yourself. We use this book in our writing workshops for kids Magic Tree House Books - Mary Pope Osborne This series has been going strong for years. The writing is excellent and the adventures take the reader everywhere a good book should - back in time, far away, out in space. Ms. Osborne must wonder what she was thinking when she started this series 48 books ago, but she continues to entertain with great learning experiences for Annie and Jack, and young readers along for the ride! Stuart Little - E. B. White E.B. White wrote at least two of the best books I’ve read in my life. Stuart Little has always been my favorite. While matter-of-factly exploring the world of a mouse born in to a human family, he makes your heart ache to explore and experience life. Like Wind in the Willows, this is a book for reading aloud.