Two years ago, when Elizabeth Willcox’s little girl was just a baby, she noticed how quickly her daughter would lose interest in toys. She decided to collaborate with her neighbors and friends to swap toys. This was good for a while. However, as the kids grew bigger, Elizabeth noticed that it was harder to swap toys equally because how do you swap a big toy for a little toy. Her solution? Toy Rentals.
One year ago this month, Elizabeth set up her service which she called TOYLEND USA. This is a service to parents of children ages 0-5 that provides toys for one month for about 10%-15% of the cost of the actual toy. You can rent toys on an individual basis or become part of the Toylender Club.
It’s a brilliant idea.
Gianna and I ran into each other at the most recent Playlend Open House. I wonder how many times we used to cross paths before we started working together? When FFTC shows up in force, we overwhelm the place. Elizabeth, wonderfully, took it all in stride. She even had diapers available when my not-as-potty-trained-as-I-would-like preschooler got too distracted to remember to ask us to take him to the bathroom.
It is no secret that I am anti-toy ownership. My husband and I have a saying: “Savers is our Storage Unit;” and this goes doubly for toys. We are committed to staying in our 1200 square foot home with four kids and German Shepherd puppy because location and the ability to get out and experience everything the Cities have to offer is important to us. This means we have to be ruthless about getting rid of things we are not currently using. It’s always tempting to hold on to our favorite toys knowing there are younger children on the way up. This is where Toylend comes in handy. Imagine being able to give back a toy and know you can get it again in a few years or, if you belong to the Toylender Club, you can rent out or sell your own toys through Toylend. Pass on the ones you no longer want and share the ones you may want later.
Honestly, my first thought when I learned of Toylend was “not for my kids.” My kids are kids. They play hard and learn through unsanctioned experimentation. They do first and ask forgiveness later. Yesterday my three-year-old used a citrus spoon to poke a hole in our vintage bongos. I guess he learned a valuable science lesson about how sound travels (or not).
Elizabeth understands kids and toys. A lost piece here or there and normal wear and tear from play are expected. I’m not sure the destroyed bongos would count as “normal,” but Toylend toys are a little sturdier than that.
Did I mention Elizabeth delivers and picks up? The thought of getting rid of ALL (and I do mean ALL) our toys and just having a few delivered every month, is an overwhelmed mother’s dream come true. Hello, Grandparents. I’m talking to you.
Elizabeth’s basement was filling up with toys and she needed a bigger place to store them when her townhome’s renters moved out. After a fruitless search, she decided to move her toys to her townhome in Roseville and create a play house–which she aptly named PLAYLEND.
PLAYLEND is a spacious townhome that is available for rental to anyone who is interested in having a birthday party–well, any kind of party for that matter. All the rooms except the kitchen are filled with her rental toys including the bounce house. She has created a book nook and has a changing table stocked with wipes for you to use.
Each month on the last Saturday, Elizabeth hosts an open house at PLAYLEND filled with all the fun of a play house and party favors.
Elizabeth is from China and used to teach in one of the Chinese Immersion schools. Since having her daughter, she is at home working TOYLEND into a huge success. Her teaching materials are not wasted since they decorate the walls of the different rooms.
Family Fun Twin Cities has no financial affiliation with Toylend or Playlend. We simply feel that Elizabeth fills a necessary need in our community.