In the heart of Harlem is a sacred place of joy and childhood memories for all. Grandma’s Place is an authentic toy store in Harlem with toys and books aimed at providing a lifetime experience.
Owner and founder, “Grandma” Dawn Harris-Martine opened the store in 1999 as a literacy center. Martine-Harris specializes in selling multicultural books and toys for all ages. Grandma’s Place sells a variety of toys, including nostalgic games, dolls of various ethnicities and genuine wooden toys.
“Toys are cherished,” said Harris-Martine. “Good toys can be passed on to other children and generations. A toy should be able to stand the test of time. I want classic toys and games. I still have yo-yos, jacks, hula-hoops and dollhouses.”
She continued, “Even the five dollar toys in here are quality. I make sure to go to toy fairs and make sure that the paints are not harmful to children.”
Harris-Martine, who is a retired teacher and child educator, is also an avid supporter of integrating educational aspects with toys and books. “We’ve devoted one-half of the store from zero to 3. Parents are the babies’ first teachers and babies learn through play, and it’s very important that they get the right things,” she said. “I always give classes to parents on how to increase the child’s interest in reading. I carry things that parents can buy to help the child with their learning.
“We like the idea of kids making things. When kids make things, they own it. We have a lot of crafts where kids can learn to paint a bank. Painting a bank does two things, they paint the bank and then they learn to save.”
The store does not carry any electronic items on its shelves. “We have journals and diaries so kids can learn to write,” said Harris-Martine. “There is not one electronic thing in the store. I don’t want to carry games. I don’t want to encourage that whole behavior. I carry games that develop critical thinking that carries over through life.”
Grandma’s Place sells a lifetime experience as well as an educational experience for kids and adults alike. Toys and books are an integral part of every child’s upbringing. Grandma’s Place is located at 84 W. 120 St. More information about the stores can be found on its website at www.grandmasplaceinharlem.com.