What's all the hoopla about Oompa? The new specialty toy store in Middleton maintains a "no batteries, no blinking lights, no cartoon-themed toys" ethic. It's a store for parents wanting simpler, organic and natural toys for their kids. Plus, the store's soft colors and surfaces make it ideal for kids to play around and parents to shop in peace.
Owner Milanie Cleere has run Oompa as an online shop since 2004; this November, she opened the new bricks-and-mortar location. (See this week's cover story for more local online shops.)
Oompa carries products for babies to young children. There are neat stacking toys, like Plan Toys' lacing sheep with stackable wood rings ($20). Bigger kids can furnish a dollhouse with modern furniture sets ($15) or a farm kitchen ($15).
I fell in love with Haba's toy food sets. From a box of knitted play bon-bons ($14) to a "city food" platter ($28), the selection of edibles was too delightful to make an easy choice. Should I go with the taco? Maybe the sandwich? In the end, I bought the dessert plate set consisting of a knitted toy croissant, cinnamon roll and doughnut ($12). Bajo Toys' hardwood cars and trucks, like the little logging freight truck ($17), are simply fun to play with, while bags, strollers and nursery furnishings should please parents - or parents- or grandparents-to-be.