Above, Got Toys owner Stacey Barcel and general manager Mandi Laughlin play with popular wind-up toys at the store’s new San Marcos location. Below, the Duncan Yo-Yo brand, a favorite for decades, gets a workout by employee Darrein Moore, 32, of San Marcos.
Photos by Jessica L. James
Got Toys offers a variety of popular culture items, ranging from lava lamps, Batman, to Sailor Moon.
Photo by Jessica L. James
Tinkering with Toys
Shop opens, catering to new, vintage toy products
Shoppers in the market for an oversized lava lamp, stackable bubbles or a plush banana slug can find their ultimate novelty item at Got Toys, a new toy store located on the Square.
Got Toys, 202 N. LBJ Drive, hosted a soft opening on Aug. 19 after launching two other locations in New Braunfels in 2009.
Owner Stacey Barcel started toying with the idea of opening a San Marcos store after the success of their two shops and the departure of Paper Bear in 2020.
“We’ve been looking for a space in San Marcos for years,” Barcel said. “Paper Bear was always down the street. I know Carol [Powers], and Carol’s amazing, and we didn’t want to step on any toes. So, when they closed, I actively started looking and found this location.” The retailer touts itself as a fun and funky toy store with gifts and oddities from newborns to adults, but Barcel said the college crowd in San Marcos was the perfect match for their niche variety.
“It was more of where we wanted to expand and finding a good location that would be a fit for our mix, and San Marcos was a natural fit,” Barcel said. “It’s the big box stores that are really running them [smaller toy stores] out of business, but we’ve been very blessed that people have been supporting us.”
In addition to Got Toys’ eclectic inventory, the shop carries items that cater to a more inclusive audience, such as books and toys for emotional literacy.
Barcel said the store is also registered as a safe space for the queer community.
“Well, one thing that I immediately think about is our dolls category,” she said. “We have everything from blonde, blue-eyed dolls all the way down to Asian dolls to Hispanic dolls, too. We want to sell something a child is going to go in there and see themselves in, and they’re going to want it. We also carry LGBTQ book titles about having two mommies or two daddies.”
General manager Mandi Laughlin is partially responsible for ordering the shop’s inventory.
She said the store does carry vintage toys, such as Lite Brites, Magic 8 Balls and Etch A Sketch, but her joy comes from seeing people of all ages catch the spirit of visiting their unique toy store.
“For me, toys are just fun, you know?” Laughlin said. “I mean, everybody wants to have something that brings laughter and joy to their life, whether it’s a child, a spouse or their elderly parent.”
The spirit of the Got Toys brand is also evidenced through their jovial and youthful staff.
Got Toys employee Darrein Moore, 32, of San Marcos, started working at the store last week and has since been greeting customers with a smile and dazzling Yo-Yo skills. He said he tries to model the wonderment that Got Toys emulates.
“You have people walk in and you just kind of see that spark in their eyes,” Moore said. “It’s amazing. It’s just like, ‘oh, man, I remember this.’ I think the best thing is they come in here and it gives them that little reminder that you might not be a kid anymore, but you still have the spirit of a child. A toy store is really essential for any city.”
Got Toys customer and Texas State student Jane King, 19, said she was impressed with the shop’s ability to create a sense of awe.
“It’s magic,” King said. “If I ever need to get someone a little gift, I’d probably come here. There are more interesting items that aren’t usually at other toy stores, and yeah, I like a bit of uniqueness.”
Got Toys will have its official grand opening on Sept. 1 from noon to 4 p.m. and will have popcorn, face painting and giveaways for all customers.