All Work, All Play
The mother and son owners of Toyology in
West Bloomfield focus on "toys that teach."
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December 8 2011
415 S. Lafayette Ave. Royal Oak
here's no official diction-
ary definition for "toyology,"
but for Nori Klar of West
Bloomfield and her son, Aric, 22, it's
the study of toys that bring laughter,
joy and learning.
The mother-son duo opened
Toyology — a new toy store inside
Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield —
as a joint venture back in April. The
colorful, inviting shop is located in the
same spot where a previous toy store
went out of business. Aric, an Eastern
Michigan University student studying
entrepreneurship, says he always liked
the location. When it became available,
he saw a golden opportunity.
"We decided to take a very educa-
tional and specialty approach, offering
products that are not available in every
store," he explained. "We have more
than 400 products. You won't find
one of them at major retail stores like
Target, Toys"R"Us or Kohl's."
Toyology carries brands like Melissa
and Doug, Alex, Orb Factory, Kidoozie,
Thinkfun, Educational Insights and
dozens of others. Many of the toys help
children learn basic skills like reading
or math. One example is a teaching cash
register that rewards transactions with
lights, sounds and voice messages for
children ages 3 and up.
"It holds real money and has a built-
in scanner, scale and coin slot:' Nori
explained. "The children can also learn
to recognize different coins and bills."
Other hot toys that teach (see sidebar
for more) include a pretend-and-play
school set with 149 pieces from a grade
book, to stickers, hall passes, a dry
Aric Klar sits on a Kettler Trike while
his mom, Nori, stands by a stuffed
erase board and more. It's designed to
make children feel more at ease about
attending school for the first time.
There's also a game called Pizza Mania.
A talking chef calls out toppings for
children to add and remove from their
pizzas. While they're having fun, they're
also honing addition, subtraction and
"One of my biggest inspirations
behind opening the store was my
6-year-old cousin with special needs:'
Aric says. "He and the other children
can just come here and have their own
space; its a happy place to work, shop
The Klar family has its roots in retail.
Nori and her husband, Mark, own
Warren Prescriptions on 14 Mile and
Middlebelt in Farmington Hills. The
independent family business started
36 years ago as a small, neighborhood
drugstore. It's grown into a modern
pharmacy offering traditional prescrip-
tion services and a variety of products,
including toys. Before that, the Klars
owned Sherman Drugs at Maple and
Lahser in Bloomfield Hills. Aric grew
up ringing up orders and helping serve
"My grandfather played a huge role
in my upbringing',' he says. "He had me
ringing the register when I was just 6
years old. It's always been in my blood:'
Nori, who describes herself as a
"pharmacist turned toyologist," has
spent the last 17 years ordering toys for
All Work, All Play on page 28