LARK Toys is so much more than a toy store.
While the operation in the southeast Minnesota town of Kellogg is thought to be the largest independent specialty toy store in the U.S., it is also a toy manufacturer with a toy museum on-site.
Plus, visitors can ride on a hand-carved wooden carousel.
Two teachers started LARK Toys in the 1980s as a small wooden toy manufacturing business. A store was added and a toy museum begun.
The Gray and Gray-Burlingame family (Kathy and Ron Gray, daughter Miranda and son-in-law Scott Gray-Burlingame) took over LARK Toys 12 years ago. They were looking for a business to do together after Miranda recovered from a rare and nearly fatal event during the birth of her first child. The experience had reframed life, in its beauty and its fragility, and they wanted to use their skills and experiences in a meaningful way.
“Everyone benefits from ‘unplugging’ once in a while, recalling happy memories and making new ones,” said Miranda Gray-Burlingame. “LARK Toys is a welcoming, slightly magical place to do just that.”
The Memory Lane Antique Toy Museum, full of treasured toys, evokes stories and laughter. View tin toys, cowboys and soldiers, die cast vehicles, old schoolhouse toys, building toys and dolls.
“Many visitors comment that seeing LARK toys being made in our workshop is inspiring,” Miranda Gray-Burlingame said. “We love what we do here: hold a joyful, creative space for visitors of all ages, colors, persuasions and beliefs to retreat, connect and play.”
In addition to the museum and workshop, there’s a café, handmade fudge and a candy store.
Outside, there are five miniature llamas and an 18-hole miniature golf course.
The main store is thousands of square feet of the best in toys, games, puzzles and books.
“Toys with batteries and electronics and lots of bells and whistles are not our thing,” said Kathy Hume Gray. “We look for toys that leave room for the child to imagine and explore.”
A representative from LARK Toys will step on the motorcoach to welcome the group and provide an overview.
For more information on LARK Toys, call 507-767-3387 or go to larktoys.com.