Bill Jensen worked in the oil industry for 27 years. But ever since he was a kid, he always wanted to make toys or at least sell them. Two-and-a-half years ago, Jensen was passing by a store property that was for sale and saw a chance to make his dream come true.
"I thought, 'This is it, go for it,'" Jensen said. He turned the property into the popular Darien Toy Box , where kids flock to pick out their favorite playthings. Jensen loves the change in careers. "This is totally different," he said. "It's a lot of fun to read the books and play with all the neat toys."
Jensen was honored recently by the Darien Chamber of Commerce for helping to design a map and logo for its Holiday Magic and Holiday Stroll events. Jensen said events like these encourage residents to support their local businesses.
"We've really seen an increase in the number of people who shop locally, not only at the toy store, but at boutiques, jewelry stores, bookstores. We're seeing activity in Darien we didn't have before."
Jensen said businesses in town work together when it comes to keeping customers in town. "When we work together, every store benefits," he said.
Jensen has a blast in his store, and so do the kids. "You don't see the kids unhappy," he said.
In addition to selling toys and promoting local business he also hosts events such as book readings and author visits. But the biggest draw is Winston, an animatronic orangutan that talks in the play area at the back of the store. "Kids really get a kick out of it."
He said this holiday season didn't boast a hot toy that flew off the shelves, but kids always found something they liked. "They always go for what is unusual, what haven't they seen before," he said.
Have you checked out the Darien Toy Box? What local businesses do love and would like to see profiled? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook .
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