Fun and Functional: “As a modern lifestyle brand, Toobydoo is designed for babies, boys and girls, from infants up to 14 years old. 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 in Palmer Square, is shown with her staff. They are enthusiastic and ready to help with a full range of imaginative shopping ideas.
By Jean Straton
VSreactivity. Imagination. Personality.
With all due respect to the digital age, you won’t find the import of these expressions and the images they conjure up online. Words and pictures, perhaps, but they are, after all, one-dimensional. Online shopping and the convenience and quick click of the keyboard cannot replicate the real thing and see it first hand. No touching, tasting, trying!
Where you’ll find creativity, imagination and personality alive 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 is sure to be a fun shopping experience.
It starts with the windows. Filled with colorful and eye-catching displays, they invite you in.
Feast for the eyes
Once inside, shoppers experience first-hand the stunning visual appeal, colorful displays and helpful advice from knowledgeable staff as they peruse the eclectic range of items.
“We want to be a feast for the eyes,” says co-owner Sonja Lips. “Also, it’s not just about gifts for babies and children, but gifts in general.” Everyone can find something. It really can be a family experience. Lots of grandmas come here to shop, and we found a great place, where grandparents, parents, and kids all love the things we have. For example, adults love our popular large bags in soft green or blue leather, perfect for carrying baby blankets or whatever else you need.
What’s particularly interesting about Toobydoo, which opened in Princeton seven years ago, is that it’s both a brand and a store. The creation of Sonja and Paul Lips is the result of their desire to change careers and move forward in a new direction.
“We were both involved in other careers when we came to New York from the Netherlands 20 years ago,” says Sonja Lips. “We wanted to change things up and we had the idea for Toobydoo 12 years ago. Paul designs all the clothes, and we wanted to inspire kids and their parents with upbeat designs that inspire you and make you feel good.
“Toobydoo is all about the active kid and having fun playing,” Sonja continues. “Styles are made with quality soft 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 has been designed in-house.
The Toobydoo brand has become hugely popular, and she points out that it’s been featured in numerous magazines – from Vogue to People to Parents – and been seen in feature films and in a White House photo shoot with Michelle. Barack Obama. It has also become a celebrity favorite, admired by Matt Damon, Sir Elton John and Naomi Watts, among others.
However, its appeal is widespread, with parents and grandparents from all walks of life responding enthusiastically to the clothing’s style, fun and ease of use. and recently to the new selection of toys.
“We believe our clothes embody the American spirit and European flair,” Sonja points out. “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 location, as was Palmer Square. During the holidays, we can see the illuminated Christmas tree in the store, and what I especially like is that the tree is always there in every season, not just during the holidays.
Toobydoo’s popularity now extends far and wide. In addition to Princeton, it can be found in 200 locations (small shops and pop-ups) across the United States and abroad.
The clothing line is attractive, with its choices ranging from rompers to raincoats, all in bright stripes and patterns in bright blue, green, yellow and red. Baby onesies are surprisingly “trendy” with their boot cut style (easy to put on and take off), and many children’s sweaters feature friendly animal designs.
Dresses for little girls intrigue with cotton T-shirts paired with ruffled skirts. “We call them our ‘tutu’ dresses,” says Sonja.
From underwear to outerwear, socks to swimwear, hats to earmuffs, barrettes to bows, the apparel and accessories are big favorites with customers, many of whom are regulars.
“People found us early on,” Sonja reports. “It’s really what we hoped for and we tried to make it a fun and happy place. A lot of our customers have now become friends and we welcome new buyers all the time. I was really surprised recently when ‘a customer came all the way from Manhattan just to come to our store. We have great word of mouth!
“Also, people have been so happy to come back after COVID. They really like to walk into stores and see things for themselves.
“To mix together”
The store was closed for several months in 2020 due to the virus, and it was an opportunity to improvise, she adds. “It caused us to pivot and be creative. That’s when we decided to introduce toys, and it was very successful.
“We don’t have any electronics, but we do have lots of wooden cars and trucks, plus soft, creative stuffed animals. Our creative corner invites kids to use their imaginations, whether it’s with painting or coloring, and assembly, like putting together a cardboard zebra, or exploring interactive color Mix It Up. It’s about exercising their creative talent. Light the spark!”
Additionally, she reports that the introduction of toys provided an opportunity for combo gifts: a dress with a toy or a special color-coordinated set. As she says, “it’s about combining fun (toys and games) and functionality (clothing) to create something special. We also have gorgeous purses (fun sequined and furry) for little girls that make a great gift with a dress.
Of course, everyone loves toys! (Like in the lyrics to “A Christmas Song,” “Kids 1-92”), and everywhere you turn in Toobydoo, there’s something new and fun to see. Sidewalk Moon Chalk, giant coloring maps of the United States and the world, self-adhesive posters and self-adhesive cards, clocks from Germany with animal accents, soft mobiles with fish and animal motifs, “cone” soft toys of ice” and swans and other creative stuffed animals. And much more — how to choose?
Christmas stockings are super fun at Toobydoo. Animal finger puppets, jewelry and nail polish for girls, stickers, crayons, markers – just to get started. And, in keeping with the times we live in, masks for children and adults are offered.
There is also a wonderful section of books to encourage reading from an early age for all children.
Sonja is proud of Toobydoo’s success and is especially grateful to its staff. As she says, “We have great staff who are very knowledgeable and ready to help customers with advice and information. We couldn’t 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 place special.
“We really stand out for our specially created items, our unique clothing and now, fun toys. Quality, comfort and attention to detail are key.
Customers appreciate not only Toobydoo’s exceptional selection and imaginative displays, but also the creative spacing, allowing them to easily navigate. Many buyers comment on the added pleasure it provides.
Prices start with toys starting at $10 and many items between $20 and $30. Clothes are between $40 and $50. Selected items are still on sale. Free gift cards and gift wrap are also available, as is delivery.
Princeton has been a perfect place for Toobydoo, adds Sonja. “It’s everything we hoped for, and we’re proud to be part of the Princeton community and give back to the community. We regularly support local charities, causes, schools and sponsorship activities. Its very important for us.
SOpening hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (609) 430-8300. Online purchases are offered on toobydoo.com.