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all photos by Francine Martini

Judaic Toys FInd a New home in Winnipeg

by Francyn Martini, October 4, 2013

Toys are a universal language. Young or old, all over the world, everyone likes to engage in play. So when Twyla Motkaluk’s daughter was little and came home wanting a dreidel, she wanted to oblige. However, she could not find one. Not only that, she was unaware of where to look.

Fast forward twenty years and Twyla and her husband Vince Gatti are righting that wrong. “It is important that kids be exposed to all religions and cultures.”, said Motkaluk, the owner of Newbridge Toy Shop at 1791 Main street. “Why shouldn’t they learn everything about other cultures? It teaches everyone to be more accepting.” So, she decided to team up with a Chicago-based Jewish educational toy company that offers more than just a dreidel during holiday times.

Twyla’s family grew up on Matheson Avenue across from the former Rosh Pina Synagogue but this was her extent of exposure to Jewish culture. She played on their grounds but had no idea the ins and outs of holidays and their celebratory items. Her store is now stocked with the traditional dreidel for Chanukah but also stretches to other types of Judaic paraphenelia. Games like kugelach (a type of jacks), a bagel building card game, multicolour magen david slinkies and a yo-yo that looks like a bagel are some of the things you will find on her shelves. They also carry many other things such as wooden toys, Melissa & Doug products, yo-yos, diecast cars, Stella baby dolls, Groovy Girls, porcelain tea sets, puzzles of all types, arts & crafts, art supplies, tin toys, board games for all ages, blocks, train sets, puppets, puppet theaters, and stuffed animals. Specializing in hard to find and quality European items, the warm and friendly service and free gift wrapping make it a pleasurable place for all holiday or gift needs. Mark up is very low, unlike some big chain stores, and she caters to the neighbourhood customer that appreciates one on one service.

Some unique things that Newbridge offers are its Yo-Yo club. It meets at the shop every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., and is open to yo-yo enthusiasts of all ages. It is an opportunity to show off some tricks, learn some new ones and to delight with others in this age old pastime. The store’s website is state-of-the-art, colourful and engaging. Twyla also likes to reach out to customers on the Newbridge Toy Shop FaceBook page she created. Here you will find monthly contests and giveaways of some of her most popular items. But these winnings are not limited to online. There are also in-store offers and opportunities to win items on location.

With colourful walls and an entrance sporting theatre drama curtains hand painted on the door, one cannot help but feel this is a magical place. “Most days it doesn’t feel like work. It is just a place I hang out and talk about toys with all types of people. I wanted to create a warm environment that welcomes everyone for many reasons. We do custom loot bags for parties, school art kits for teachers and always help the doting grandparent who wants to know what their grandchild would appreciate.”, said the shop owner.

Twyla also feels it is important to have hours that cater to her shoppers, so she has remained opened every day of the week since the store’s opening in August 2012. She is trying to gauge the needs of her customers so that all can delight in this tiny treasure of a store. So come on in, and transport yourself to a time where what to play with, was the only thing on the agenda.

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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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