Best Toy Store

Happy Up Inc.

The story of Happy Up Inc. sounds like a fairy tale pulled from its own shelves: Last year the owners of this eclectic Clayton toy emporium (then called LagoonaMagoo Toys) were staring down the barrel of financial trouble. After 25 years, it seemed like playtime had finally come to an end. But then the public and local businesses stepped in and donated to a "Save the Toy Store" campaign — some $80,000 later, the store was indeed saved. Since then, LagoonaMagoo has become Happy Up Inc., but nothing has changed about the store's philosophy. Though smaller than its flagship counterpart in Illinois (formerly Once Upon a Toy), the St. Louis branch of Happy Up Inc. is still densely packed with all manner of silly gadgets, from mesmerizingly pliable Kinetic Sand to a wearable mermaid fin for your pool-bound Disney princess. And while the free gift-wrapping will come in handy for those kiddie birthday parties, the best perks here are the Toy Experts. These employees seem to bubble with infectious, childlike delight at finding the perfect item for that precocious tyke, whether it be an educational toy or Whoopee cushion. With any luck, the Toy Experts at Happy Up Inc. will keep spreading the "Do Touch, Do Play!" mantra for decades to come.

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