The Local Exchange: Washburn store offers sensory-friendly toys for kids

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 10:34 AM CDT
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WASHBURN, WI. (KBJR) - Creating space where kids can be kids; that is the mission a small business owner in Northwest Wisconsin embarked on when the pandemic hit.

Located in downtown Washburn, Kiddiwink Kids became that space.

Owner Sheila Desjarlais wanted to entertain her kids without relying on screen time, and she was not alone.

“Kids are naturally really inquisitive, and so we wanted a space where they could come in and literally could touch and play with everything because they are all intended for them,” Desjarlais said.

Along with high-quality toys made with sustainable products, Kiddiwink offers classes that promote free thinking.

“I think the most important part of this is just letting a child be,” Desjarlais said. “Not telling them, ‘Oh you need to color this or oh you need to draw a certain way or build a certain way.’ Just letting them be. It’s incredible to watch their minds work, and some of them are like, ‘Wait, what am I supposed to do? What are the instructions?’ and I’m like ‘There are no instructions!’”

Her children Adelaide and Ben love playing in the store, and it was important for Desjarlais to offer toys made for every type of kid.

“These kits can meet a child of any ability,” she said. “If they’re non-verbal, if they’re working on gross and fine motor skills, these are perfect for them.”

Sensory-friendly toys with prices fit for every family.

“I don’t want this type of play only open to people who make a certain amount of money,” Desjarlais said. “I want there to be something that almost every family can afford.”

With one year of operation under its belt, Kiddiwink Kids is a small store with a lot of growth in its future just like the children it aims to serve.

“It’s just really unbelievable that something I’ve been thinking about for so long has actually come to fruition, and it’s working, and people want to come,” Desjarlais said.

Kiddiwink has three more sensory and play classes this summer.

They involve working with cloud dough, moon slime, and bath bombs.

Click here for the details.

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