Snapdoodle Toys & Games has taken Issaquah by storm… The toy scene will never be the same again! The locally-owned and operated adventure emporium opened in late September at Grand Ridge Plaza to the delight of both children and adults. Offering a huge range of hand-selected toys, games and crafts, plus books and DIY kits, the store is a showcase of family favorites and hidden gems. We caught up with owner Rob Pickering to learn more this community-focused toy store that’s centered on fun and learning.
Grand Ridge Plaza: What makes Snapdoodle's offerings different?
Rob Pickering: Snapdoodle Toys & Games has always been a much more European-based toy store. It originated in the historic Schnitzelbank Building in Kenmore almost 12 years ago. We love toys from all over the world that have more educational value and are not as “disposable” feeling as many toys have become in the past 20 years. We are always looking for more wood toys, smaller companies with unique toys, and harder to find toys. Quality and hand-selected toys are simply a better investment than the mass market, big box retailer toys.
Grand Ridge Plaza: How do you select toys and games?
Rob Pickering: We have several unique ways to find new toys and games. Snapdoodle attends toy shows every year in a variety of cities around the country, as well at Toy Fair in New York City every February. We also have a number of terrific toy reps in the Seattle area who have showrooms and also come out to our stores every month to show us the latest and greatest toys. Finally, we are members of ASTRA, the American Specialty Toy Retailers Association, and also the cooperative catalog group called The Good Toy Group. Both help us curate from the thousands of new and unique toys and games being created around the world.
Grand Ridge Plaza: What are some of your favorite new toys and games, as well as hidden gems?
Rob Pickering: One hidden gem that I can’t stop playing is a one- to two-player game called The Genius Square that is a wonderful mind bender. Over 62,000 puzzle combinations, so it never plays the same—perfect for single player play.
Turing Tumble is the most incredible “learn to code” game that we have seen in several years. From Minnesota, it looks like a big pachinko game, but has an amazing anime- style workbook and kids are having a blast learning to code.
Shashibo Puzzles are endless entertainment and great for everyone from folks on the autistic spectrum to just about every one of us that work in the stores. I also can’t stop playing with fruit Nee-Dohs since they are kind of like the 2019 spinners. What is it about the modern age that we all need to keep our hands so busy!?
Grand Ridge Plaza: What games do you recommend for family game night?
Rob Pickering: I am a huge fan of a new word game called Jabuka. Coffee beans with letters on them to create words, kind of like a Seattle version of Bananagrams, but this game has an amazing twist! Letters can be turned, so an M becomes an E or even a W.
My own young adults are crazy about Telestrations and Sushi Go Party, and also still play the hot game from last year, Codenames.
Young kids will love playing the cooperative games from Peaceable Kingdom. Working together with family and friends to win a game is a great way to get started with gaming. I used to play Catan with my kids when they were much younger, and we played with the cards up and were super cooperative…. Now, they seem to casually crush my spirits in most games. Ha!