Greg Larson

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

When Greg Larson opened his toy store in Upper Arlington in October 1981, he wanted to create a place where parents could buy quality toys that were age-appropriate for their children.

As Larson's Toys & Games approaches its 30th anniversary, Larson still has the same goal.

He fills the store with items that will inspire and challenge kids. He looks for play things that are "open-ended," he said, explaining that, "most of our things require a child to do something with it."

How would you describe the store?

We're really known for our great selection of really good toys. People who are looking for specialty toys - those people know who we are.

What items are you known for?

We have a really strong infant and toddler department. We like to have a lot of active toys - things you can do outside. We've got a great arts and crafts department.

Have you been impacted by the downturn in the economy?

Clearly since about 2008, the economy has made things really tough for all retail - large, small, mom and pops, chains. We have done a pretty good job of maintaining our business. We do a good job with customer service.

Your signature gift wrap - solid paper decorated with colorful stickers - is recognized by kids throughout the city. Do you get lots of comments about it?

Our gift-wrap service is very important to almost all of our customers. We've added some patterns, which was kind of difficult for me to accept. But a lot of the solid paper is no longer available. The patterned paper we've brought in has been fun.

How can the right toy impact a child's development?

Play is really, really important for kids. They need unstructured play time to explore and learn about their world. We like to think that kids need to play for a long, long time. A lot of people think it's better for kids to be in organized recreational activities or organized sports. I think that's not very healthy for kids.