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Where to source sustainable children’s toys on the Gold Coast

Natalie O’Driscoll | September 2020

As the idea of ethical consumerism takes a greater hold on the general population, Gold Coast is seeing a rise in sustainably-minded shoppers, keen to spend their hard-earned cash on quality products from small local businesses.

This is particularly true in the case of children’s toys, with discerning Gold Coast parents increasingly seeking out Australian-sourced, handmade, and educational playthings that will last long enough to become either a keepsake or a quality hand-me-down.

We took a closer look at three Gold Coast businesses that are on a mission to stock these kind of socially conscious products, and in doing so are turning the cheap, plastic, throw-away children’s toy culture on its head.

Little Things Toy Library

Little Things is a brand new membership-based toy lending library located on the Gold Coast, which provides families affordable access to toys through its online boutique.

The library stocks an array of eco-friendly, educational and open-ended play toys designed to support skill development and imagination for children aged six months to eight years.
Owner Becca Hancock, originally from the U.S., came up with the concept for the innovative business as a result of her own children becoming quickly bored of their toys during 2020 lockdown.

“I thought how great it would be to have a toy library where we could borrow toys that the kids would enjoy without spending lots of money on something that would lose its appeal quickly, end up having to be sold, donated or thrown out or clutter our home,” she said.

And with many local families experiencing the same juggle of kids and work in the home, Becca believed that the wider community would appreciate such a business.

“It didn’t take us long to realise how family-focused the Gold Coast is. It is such a great place to raise a family, we feel very lucky to live here.

“I know there are other toy libraries in Australia and in the U.S., so I was surprised to find there wasn’t one on the Gold Coast, with so many young families it makes perfect sense.”

And it certainly did. The Little Things Instagram page, launched in August, is already generating a great deal of interest from Gold Coast families. The concept itself certainly sat comfortably within Becca’s wheelhouse; with a degree in Sustainable Urban Planning, she is no stranger to the eco-friendly way of living.

“I am very vocal about waste and excess, I hate to see things end up in a landfill when there is an easy sustainable alternative,” Becca explained.

“I am always thinking of ways I can lessen our family’s impact on the environment, so I hope starting Little Things is a way I can help our community do the same.”

Little Things also intends to support the local community, with 10% of each monthly membership fee donated to Gold Coast non-profit Baby Give Back, which provides essential baby items to families in crisis to help them give their children a safe start to life. In addition, Becca hopes to explore local makers, artisans and retailers.

“As part of Little Thing’s community initiative we plan to support other small businesses, whether that is purchasing toys for our inventory from Australian-made brands or family owned toys stores or providing a discount code in our member’s weekly newsletter to a local cafe for their next playdate,” she said.

Little Things Toy Library opens for memberships in October 2020.

Madison Jane

Madison Jane is an online and in-store baby and children’s clothing boutique located in Burleigh Heads.

The store stocks a large range of eco-friendly children’s, toddler’s and baby toys, with a focus on long-lasting and sustainable items, as well as superior personalised service. Many items are sourced or made from scratch by local creatives, and everything in the store is Australian-designed.

Owner Julie Ackland will most likely be the smiling face who will greet shoppers when they visit the store. She founded Madison Jane along with her daughter and business partner Sarah in 2011.

“We believe in supporting our local creative community and sustainable clothing choices,” Julie explained, “and we definitely appeal to the people who want something a bit different and unique and sustainable. We also offer a personalised shopping experience that you don’t see all that often anymore, and people definitely seem to enjoy that part of it.”

Sarah is the proud mother of children Madison (the store’s namesake) and also Joshua. Don’t worry, Joshua doesn’t miss out on the glory – he’s featured on several in-store articles. These clan connections make Madison Jane the quintessential family business for socially conscious Gold Coasters who wish to support local.

“We want to see Madison and Joshua living in a world where people appreciate lovingly created hand-made goods, and where people purchase goods that are sustainable and ethical,” said Julie.

“As well as safety and green choices for our babies becoming a priority, so too are the traditions we wish to see passed down from generation to generation, sibling to sibling.”

While Madison Jane is a boutique, destination store that is unlikely to be thronging with the public at any one time, they are also happy to take online and phone orders if you’re not nearby or just keen to stay at home right now.

Learn By Play

Learn By Play is a family-owned and run business located on the Gold Coast that stocks a range of good quality, lasting educational toys, designed to stand the test of time and provide the basis of good education, maths, discovery, art and wonder.

Owners Vincent and Tara Flory conceptualised the business after becoming conscious of the amount of plastic toys they had cluttering their home; toys that their sons no longer had any interest in playing with.

After many years of research, they discovered what they felt to be the best of the best in terms of sustainable and educational toys overseas.

“[We found] sustainable products that would help protect the planet. Toys that would last generations. Simple toys that provide the building blocks of great communication, creation, language, play and the sciences,” said Tara.

“A child learns through play, and it’s the opportunity to instill so much of what they need to grow into free-thinking, competent, confident adults. We set out to find similar products here in Australia.”

Vincent and Tara are strong believers in dramatic play, imagination and the outdoors, and you will see this reflected in their stock.

“We don’t stock thousands of products, we hand-pick the ones we find unique and essential in any classroom,” explained Tara. “We prefer to support local, and many of the products we stock are from home-based hobbyists/retirees that create beautiful toys and resources.

“Sustainability on Earth is of the upmost importance to us and we live our lives doing the best we can to protect the environment. We work hard to find little treasures that will help instill the love of learning in children.”

You can visit the website, email or call to talk directly to Vincent and Tara, who run their business from home in order to keep overheads down and pass the cost savings onto consumers.

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