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It's Always Playtime at Palo Alto's New Experiential Toy Store

Carolyne Zinko | October 3, 2018 | Lifestyle Story Shopping

Thoughtful, intentional, strategic and wise—words to live by in the startup world, and when raising children, say two Palo Alto moms with a toy-store concept that blends both.

Hanna Chiou and Anne-Louise Nieto, former retail business consultants, are the founders of Habbi Habbi, which opened a three-month pop-up at Stanford Shopping Center Oct. 1.

The pair are fans of intentional parenting, which focuses on proactive teaching and behavioral modeling, as opposed to reacting to what kids do. As business consultants working abroad, they saw the popularity of experiential retail in Asia, and decided to bring that to the birthplace of high-tech, in a mall where Apple and Tesla let customers noodle with products as well.

There are no Toys “R” Us shelves laden with products. Habbi Habbi, a play on a toddler’s attempt to say “happy, happy,” and designed by Bergmeyer, will be set up like a home’s great room, with toys kids can test and parents can later order online.

With apologies to Mr. Potato Head, it’s toys that teach creativity, empathy, global citizenship and other things that Chiou and Nieto are after. Think Arckit, an architectural modeling system from Ireland; Lunii, an audio storytelling device from France that lets kids choose characters and settings; and Sigikid, eco-friendly soft toys from Germany. “It’s a really carefully curated set,” says Nieto, who researched more than 1,500 brands. Only 30 made her cut.

“Our goal is to provide an amazing experience,” says Chiou. The pair aim to go nationwide. 660 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto

Originally published in the October issue of Silicon Valley

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