Zach Kinsey has been collecting toys for pretty much his entire life. He remembers every toy he’s ever had, especially his action figures. To this day he can remember all of their accessories, the colors of every outfit they wore, the vehicles they drove, and how old he was when he had them. He remembers vividly the excitement of birthdays and holidays, knowing that new toys were on the way. This feeling has stayed with him into adulthood and is what drives him in helping to pick just the right toy for the little one in your life.
His wife, Tracy Melcher, has creativity and sales in her blood. When she was 15, she learned how to craft beads from clay. After showing them to classmates at school, they all wanted to buy them and a business was born. Before long, she was making jewelry and selling it at local concerts that her musician-friends were putting on. Fast forward to the present and the sales bug is still with her. She works full-time as a sales rep in the gift industry, but still helps Zach daily with running the toy shop.
Chesterton Toys started in 2009 at the European Market (Chesterton, Indiana’s, premier Farmers Market). In those days, they were called Alice’s Garden – Goodies & Gifts, a booth intended to pamper children with garden-themed playthings. It was a shaky start, but as Zach and Tracy slowly came to understand what their customers were looking for, they ultimately discovered the beauty of nostalgic and classic wooden toys. Parents and grandparents alike would stop by to reminisce about their childhoods and how “you just can’t find toys like this anymore.” Soon customers were asking where their store was and how could they buy these items year-round.
In 2010, Alice’s Garden – Goodies & Gifts gave way to Alice’s Garden Toy Boutique –a lovely old toy shop in downtown Porter, Indiana. They worked hard to make this the most charming and distinctive store around, but the traffic just wasn’t what they felt it should be. A year later they packed up and moved a few blocks down the road to downtown-Chesterton, Indiana, where they remain today.
Zach and Tracy couldn’t believe their good fortune in finding the most adorable Swiss-chalet style storefront with high ceilings trimmed with sturdy wooden beams. A warm and welcoming feeling envelops you the minute you walk in the door. This is the place they knew they could call home. The town itself brings a sense of nostalgic reverence. Hundred-year-old buildings line the streets with other mom-and-pop shops just like theirs. Whether shopping for a one-of-a-kind gift, looking for a homemade bite to eat, or just enjoying a walk through town, Chesterton is the place to be. Only minutes from the coast of Lake Michigan and the famous Indiana Dunes, this is the perfect spot to bring the family to enjoy the beach, campgrounds, and hiking trails.
Now that they had the best shop, with the best toys, in the best town, they decided that a new name might serve them well. In 2016, they said goodbye to Alice’s Garden and hello to Chesterton Toys – a simple name that honors their new home and gives their customers something easier to recall when telling their friends about this awesome little toy shop.
From their humble beginnings in the European Market, to their lovely, old shop in Porter and the beautiful chalet where they now reside, one thing has remained constant: kid-powered entertainment. The best toys require imagination–not batteries. Ingenuity and resourcefulness are best achieved through hands-on play and Chesterton Toys’ kid-powered philosophy provides the finest toys to nurture these skills. Zach and Tracy’s shared love of helping people lends itself well to life as business-owners. Customer service is the top priority in their store. The one-on-one attention they show their customers helps them better understand their customers’ needs. Won’t you come for a visit and see what Chesterton Toys has in store for you?