Unique Baby and Children’s Clothes and Toys Are Colorfully Displayed at Toobydoo Princeton
FUN AND FUNCTION: “As a modern lifestyle brand, Toobydoo is designed for babies, boys, and girls, from infants to age 14. We believe in beautiful designs that are always fun and functional. Come see us at Toobydoo!” Sonja Lips (right), co-owner, with her husband Paul, of Toobydoo on Palmer Square, is shown with her staff. They are enthusiastic and ready to help with a full range of imaginative shopping ideas.
By Jean Stratton
Creativity. Imagination. Personality.
With all due respect to the digital age, you will not find the import of these expressions and the images they evoke online. Words and pictures, perhaps, but they are, after all, one-dimensional. Online shopping and the convenience and quick click of the keyboard cannot duplicate the real thing, and seeing it firsthand. No touching, tasting, trying on!
Where you will find creativity, imagination, and personality vividly brought to life is within the walls of Toobydoo. The baby and children’s clothing and toy store at 59 Palmer Square West is filled with style and spirit, and a visit there will guarantee a fun shopping experience.
It begins with the windows. Filled with colorful, eye-catching displays, they invite you to come in.
Feast for the Eyes
Once inside, shoppers experience firsthand the extraordinary eye appeal, colorful displays, and helpful advice from the knowledgeable staff as they look over the eclectic array of items.
“We want to be a feast for the eyes,” says co-owner Sonja Lips. “Also, it’s not just about babies’ and children’s gifts, but gifting in general. Everyone can find something. It can really be a family experience. A lot of grandmothers come here to shop, and we have found a sweet spot, where the grandparents, parents, and kids all like the things we have. For example, adults love our popular large totes in green or blue soft leather, which are great for carrying baby blankets or whatever you need.”
What is especially interesting about Toobydoo, which opened in Princeton seven years ago, is that it is a brand as well as a shop. The creation of Sonja and Paul Lips, it is a result of their desire to change careers and go forward in a new direction.
“We were both involved in other careers when we came to New York from Holland 20 years ago,” explains Sonja Lips. “We wanted to make a change, and we came up with the idea of Toobydoo 12 years ago. Paul designs all the clothing, and we wanted to inspire kids and their parents with optimistic designs that inspire and make you feel good.”
“Toobydoo is all about the active kid and the fun of play,” continues Sonja. “Styles are made with soft quality fabrics — ready for imagination, play, and easy washing! Paul is inspired by modern art and architecture, and every design, every stripe, every pattern, every color combination you see in the store was designed in-house.”
The Toobydoo brand has become very popular, and she points out that it has been featured in many magazines — from Vogue to People to Parents— and has been seen in feature films and in a White House photo shoot with Michelle Obama. It has also become a celebrity favorite, admired by Matt Damon, Sir Elton John, and Naomi Watts, among others.
Its appeal is all across the board, however, with parents and grandparents from all walks of life enthusiastically responding both to the style, fun, and easy wear of the clothes. and recently to the new toy selection as well.
“We feel our clothes embody American spirit and European flair,” points out Sonja. “After launching the brand in Barneys, Saks, Neiman Marcus, and various pop-ups, we felt it was time to open a flagship store. With its diverse international community, Princeton was the perfect place, as is Palmer Square. During the holidays we can see the lighted Christmas tree from the store, and what I especially love is that the tree is always there every season, not just during the holidays.”
The popularity of Toobydoo now extends far and wide. In addition to Princeton, it can be found in 200 locations (small boutiques and pop-ups) across the U.S. and abroad.
The clothing line is appealing, with its choices, including rompers to raincoats, all in bright stripes and patterns in vivid blue, green, yellow, and red. Baby onesies are unexpectedly “fashionable” with their boot-cut styling (easy on and off), and many of the children’s sweaters feature friendly animal designs.
Dresses for little girls are intriguing with cotton T-tops combined with frilly skirts. “We call them our ‘tutu’ dresses,” says Sonja.
From underwear to outerwear, socks to swimsuits, hats to earmuffs, barrettes and bows, the clothes and accessories are big favorites with the customers, many of whom are regulars.
“People found us from the beginning,” reports Sonja. “It is really what we had hoped for, and we have tried to make it a fun, happy place. Many of our customers have now become friends, and we welcome new shoppers all the time. I was really surprised recently when a customer drove all the way from Manhattan just to come to our store. We do have great word-of-mouth!
“Also, people have been so glad to come back after COVID. They really like to come into the stores and see things firsthand.”
“Mix It Up”
The shop was closed for several months in 2020 due to the virus, and that was an opportunity to improvise, she adds. “It caused us to pivot and be creative. It was then that we decided to introduce toys, and this has been very successful.
“We don’t have electronics, but feature a lot of wooden cars and trucks, and soft, creative stuffed animals. Our Creative Corner invites kids to use their imagination, whether with painting or coloring, and assembly, such as putting together a cardboard zebra, or exploring the Mix It Up color interactive. It’s all about exercising their creative talent. Igniting the spark!”
In addition, she reports that the introduction of toys has offered an opportunity for combination gifts: a dress with a special color-coordinated toy or game. As she says, “It’s combining fun (toys and games) with function (clothing) to make something special. We also have wonderful purses (fun glittery and furry) for little girls, which make a great gift with a dress.”
Of course, everyone loves toys! (As in the “A Christmas Song” lyric, “kids from 1 to 92”), and everywhere you turn around in Toobydoo, there is something new and fun to see. Sidewalk Moon Chalk, giant-size maps of the U.S. and world to color, sticker posters and sticker maps, clocks from Germany with animal-sound accents, soft mobiles in fish and animal designs, “ice cream cone” plush toys and glitter-adorned swans, and other creative stuffed animals. And so much more — how to choose?
Stocking stuffers are super fun at Toobydoo. Animal finger puppets, jewelry and nail polish for the girls, stickers, crayons, markers — just to begin. And, in keeping with the times we are living in, masks for children and adults are offered.
There is also a wonderful book section to entice reading at the earliest ages for all children.
Sonja is proud of Toobydoo’s success, and she is especially thankful for her staff. As she says, “We have a wonderful staff, so knowledgeable and willing to help customers with advice and information. We could not have done this without the enthusiasm and dedication of our fantastic team at the store. They are such a big part of what makes this a special place.
“We are truly set apart by our specially-created items, our unique clothing, and now, the fun toys. Quality, comfort, and attention to detail are key.”
Customers not only appreciate Toobydoo’s outstanding selection and imaginative displays, but also the creative spacing, allowing them to browse with ease. Many shoppers comment on the added pleasure this provides.
Prices begin with toys from $10, and many items at $20 to $30. Clothing is in the $40 to $50 range. Selected items are always on sale. Gift cards and complimentary gift wrapping are also available, as is shipping.
Princeton has been a perfect location for Toobydoo, adds Sonja. “It’s all we hoped for, and we pride ourselves in being part of the Princeton community and giving back to the community. We regularly support local charities, causes, schools, and sponsor activities. This is very important to us.”
Store hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. For more information, call (609) 430-8300. Online purchases are offered at toobydoo.com.