Last month, boxes brimming over with toys and books arrived by taxi at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center—special delivery from the Mary Arnold Toy Store on Lexington Avenue. The 2400 square foot daughter-and-pop shop (that bills itself as America’s oldest toy store) is now the Berrie Center’s newest, local partner—in toys, that is, which is an integral part of the pediatric program at the Berrie Center since no child leaves without one.
“Thank you, Mary Arnold Toy Store,” said Robin Goland, MD, the J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes at Columbia University and the Co-Director of the Berrie Center. “We appreciate your store, your kindness and your gigantic heart. Your contributions are already flying off the shelves.”
Mary Arnold Toy Store has been a fixture on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since 1931; it has had three different locations on Lexington and four different owners with the Ishayik family at the helm now for over 35 years. With the floors to ceilings jam-packed with toys, arts and crafts, puzzles, stuffed animals, you name it, Mary Arnold Toy Store is a breath of fresh air in the era of online retailers.
“Not only can you find anything you’re looking for at the Toy Store,” said Judy Ishayik who runs Mary Arnold with her father Ezra, who added that they do business with more than 550 vendors. “We’ll do you one better than that. You can come in, and we’ll help you choose something age and price appropriate, we’ll wrap it up and deliver it for you. It’s Amazon, plus the customer service, plus the friendly smiles. We try to do it all here.”
Judy, a former first-grade teacher in New Jersey and Ezra, a veritable toy historian, see the new partnership between the Berrie Center and Mary Arnold as a good fit. “When I heard about the Berrie Center’s toy program I found it to be so comforting for the children. We’re glad to get involved.” In addition to book and toy donations, the store hopes to open its doors for Berrie Center special events and fundraisers.
You can get involved too by considering calling Mary Arnold’s (212-744-8510) for your next toy purchase or donation. Mention the Berrie Center toy program, and you'll get a 10 per cent discount. Or better yet, stop by 1178 Lexington Avenue. Said Judy, “It’s always a happy occasion when you come into the toy store.”