Meet Your Neighborhood Toy Shop | Q&A with Jillian Wahlquist of Tom’s Toys
Tom’s Toys has been bringing children joy through their expansive toy collection for decades. Their iconic neon sign, castle turret and free gift wrapping are just a few of the things that set this special local toy shop apart. We sat down with Vice President Jillian Wahlquist to learn more about the company’s long history, their iconic neon sign and of course — LEGO.
How did Tom’s Toys get started?
Originally founded by Tom Williams more than half a century ago, Tom’s Toys has been an institution in San Luis Obispo for decades. The business was purchased more than 30 years ago by Ted Frankel, a second generation toy store owner who prides himself in offering a wide selection of toys and great service to the San Luis Obispo community.
How do you want Tom’s Toys to be known in the community?
There are very few large toy stores left in California. We want customers visiting Tom’s Toys to feel like they’ve had a unique, fun experience choosing the perfect gift for their loved ones and friends. Additionally, our staff has a wide knowledge of models, games, and LEGO, making Tom’s Toys an ideal destination for LEGO builders, gamers, and hobbyists.
What sets SLO apart from the other store locations?
The Frankel building, which currently houses the store on the first and second floors, was built especially for the store. The castle turret, neon signage, as well as the whimsical touches created by our employees sets the SLO store apart from Tom’s Toys locations.
Best selling toy?
Definitely LEGO! We are one of 38 LEGO Gold Standard stores in the country, meaning we have a wider and better selection of LEGO than most independent stores. We sell a ton of LEGO Gold Standard exclusives such as the Creator Expert line, Ideas line and other unique sets.
What is the biggest difference from when you opened the store?
One of the beauties of SLO is that it hasn’t changed much in 30 years. Other than our selection — which is updated often — our gift wrapping, customer service and dedication to giving our customers a great deal whenever possible, have stayed the same.
What are you looking forward to for the shop?
We are looking forward to staying open, keeping our employees and customers healthy, and continuing to serve as a destination for our community! We are looking forward to 2021 and are extremely grateful for the support the community has shown us during this crazy year.
One last question…why should our community shop local?
We feel that small businesses should make it easy and enjoyable for customers to shop small and we strive to do just that. We carry a wider selection of toys than the big box stores, including fantastic 60-70% closeout deals on top independent brands. Add in free gift wrapping and we believe that we make shopping local and small an easy choice.