When a little birdie told us about Rhen’s Nest, a quaint toy store perched in the heart of Glenwood Park, we thought it was too good to be true. A shop specializing in unplugged play for all ages? It couldn’t be. But friends, we’re here to tell you that Rhen’s Nest isn’t a mythological phoenix; it truly is a beautiful store full of charm that’s brimming with toys, decor, puzzles, games, books and more, all itching to be handled. Rhen’s Nest is a hands-on sanctuary for kids and parents alike.
One of the things I noticed as soon as I entered the store was the played-with vibe it carries. Owner Christina Bonaccorse strives to make every aspect of Rhen’s Nest like a giant playground, a place of discovery and exploration. Specializing in creating an inviting environment, Christina describes her shop as “a relaxing atmosphere for both children and adults to play and shop in.” The key word here, even more than shop, is play. Looking around, you will find games waiting for participants, rockets looking for a commander and Buddha Boards showcasing budding artists. In essence, the store not only sells play, but encourages it. In fact, Christina and her husband, John, just might be the ones placing a particular item in your hand, encouraging you to give it a whirl, or they may be your challenger in the next game of Tenzi.
Creating an environment where toys rule and discovery is encouraged was something that Christina hoped to harness from day one. As a neighborhood shop, it was important to her that everyone felt welcome. “We want folks to know that we are here to not only offer them quality toys, but as a place to stop by, say hi, and hang out and play!” A miniature kitchen waiting for a miniature person to prepare miniature food, a table sprawling with science experiments (including a particularly incredible putty) and walls of board games entice children in the best way possible and almost whisper “pick me up.”
The selection of toys and board games carried in the store is pretty phenomenal, too. Christina lovingly blames John for this, “My husband is a board game geek and was very thoughtful in his help in selecting board games.” And I can attest to this, too. I watched John speak with a friend about board games with such passion that I wanted to buy every one he mentioned.
It’s this infectious spirit that makes Rhen’s Nest a place that you don’t want to leave. Wandering around, I found myself continually curious about items. Scratch and sniff stickers? My handwritten thank you notes definitely need those. A collection of Jane Austen-themed Cozy Classics? Surely I know a little girl somewhere in need of some classic literature with charming heroines. Rock tumblers? Add those to my pile, too.
The care with which Christina chooses items for Rhen’s Nest is evident. “Our selection process is a very arduous one,” she explains. “I go out and meet either manufacturers or sales reps. We make sure they understand the basis of our store and what we’re about. Before these meetings though, we plow through catalogs to get an idea of what’s currently on the market.” Of course, Christina notes a more personal part of the selection process as well: “And it always goes back to one thing … would Rhen play with that?”
Beyond being the namesake of the store, Rhen, Christina and John’s daughter, is one of the reasons that Rhen’s Nest was hatched. Inspired by a trip to a local toy store in Maryland, Christina left wanting to create her own shop solution for parents in Atlanta. “We were doing a lot of travel when she [Rhen] was an infant, and I was looking for cool toys that traveled well,” Christina says. “They knew exactly what I needed, when I needed it. It was a tailored service, and it resonated.” She continues, “I wanted other parents to have that moment I had and know what it’s like to be given the perfect toy for the perfect moment. That’s how powerful it was.” While it’s hard to determine a favorite, Christina has a soft spot for Tegu, a line of magnetic wooden building blocks. “It’s actually the line that inspired me to open our shop. The quality is amazing; the only limit to the toy is your imagination. And they’re really good people. They employ tree farmers in Honduras to produce their trees and have a reforestation program. Just good humans in general,” she explains.
With a passion for unplugged play that gets playtime back to its roots and defies the iPad world we live in, Rhen’s Nest is something special for kids and parents in a sky of ordinary. “We’re all about offering creative play and enriching options,” Christina says. “We want family game nights to make a comeback, and for giggles and fun to be an everyday occurrence, not just a sporadic moment. Rhen’s Nest is the solution to conundrums you didn’t realize you had.” Whether they’re hosting events like Family Mental Fitness Day (a family board game night) or providing the latest in science and chemistry toys, like Yellow Scope’s Foundation Chemistry Kit, Rhen’s Nest is proving time and time again that they’re ahead of the curve and leading the flock on all things imagination.
Rhen’s Nest is located in Glenwood Park at 924 Garrett St., Ste. D. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more at rhensnesttoyshop.com and tell them StyleBlueprint sent you!