How many of you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of THINGS your children have, the money you’ve spent (or wish you could spend) on toys, and determining just which toys the kids will actually use? There are ways to cope and adapt: repeating the mantra “it’s just a phase”, giving away garbage bags of items each season, shopping at thrift stores and resale events, or rotating toys (read about Minimizing the Mess).
But what if you could borrow toys on a regular basis for variety, affordability, and less stuff in your house at one time? If you like that idea, then Oxford Toy Closet might be a good fit for you!
Oxford Toy Closet is a toy library, encouraging environmentally-friendly and affordable play in Memphis.
I had the privilege of trying the service for a few months, and loved it (I’m going to keep up the membership)! I also got to know the founder and owner, Renee, through the experience, and completely back her vision and business model. I’d like to tell you more in hopes that you might give it a try and find that it works well for your family – giving your kids more play options, and you less expense and stuff.
When Renee’s daughter was an infant, she wanted to get an object permanence box – a Montessori toy – for her, but knew it would only hold her interest until she mastered the skill. Renee couldn’t find one used, so she researched how families afford these kinds of high-quality, short-term use toys. One of the answers was to make your own, which she did with a shoe box that her baby later destroyed. The answer that truly spoke to her was the idea of a toy library. Voila: Oxford Toy Closet.
How does it work, you ask? It’s simple!
- You sign up for a membership by filling out the form at the bottom of the membership page.
- Then you browse an online catalogue to select up to 4 toys you want to borrow. You get a confirmation email letting you know when the items are available for pick up, as well as the address.
- Oxford Toy Closet is operated out of a residence in the Binghampton neighborhood. You will be given the address at the time of confirmation of your first reserved items.
- When you’re ready to pick up your reserved items, you fetch them from the porch of the home. There is a plastic bin with a lid for smaller items, and larger items are set on the floor next to the bin. Most items come in a reusable bag with a tag attached with your name, details about the item such as number of pieces and suggestions for how to use it, and replacement fee should it be unreturned or damaged.
- When you’re ready to return the items, you put them back in the bin or on the porch. You’ll then receive an email confirming that the items were received by Oxford Toy Closet.
More on Membership
- Oxford Toy Closet operates on a Pay What You Can model, striving to make fun and educational play accessible to all families.
- The suggested monthly rate is $15. To “Pay it Forward,” sign up for the $25 rate. Otherwise, pay what you can.
- Subscriptions can be paid in cash, on Cash-app, or through Paypal.
Oxford Toy Closet offers a wide variety of toys and playthings. My daughter, who is nearly two-and-a-half, has borrowed wooden cars, puzzles, STEM-based toys, a doll house, and ride-on toys. Oxford Toy Closet offers infant toys, sensory items, musical toys, and more, too. The catalogue is organized by category so it’s easy to hone in on what you want or what interests your child. You also see information on the suggested age range, which can be helpful.
Oxford Toy Closet accepts donations for gently used toys and games for ages 12 and under. They do not accept toys with batteries, stuffed animals, or weapons at this time.