For all the local small business lovers out there, this popular children’s toy store in Excelsior has everything—from specialty toys to books to old-fashioned candy. Something Safari is customer focused, and is especially attentive towards the young kids in the neighborhood. They constantly stock new and popular games, crafts and toys for children of all ages. This gem of the Lake Minnetonka area, a tiny shop with a big heart, once started out even smaller.
Pei-Lin Yap, the owner and founder of Something Safari, opened the store as a resale shop in Hopkins in 2009. A year later, the shop moved to its location on Water Street where it became the toy store it is today. Yap has always been passionate about the toy industry and working with kids. “I always wanted to do something on my own,” she says. “And I love children’s stuff.” Since she has no kids of her own, Yap often says that the store is her “kid.” “We get a lot of input from the kids who shop in the store and we treat them like extended family,” she says. Yap explains that she is concentrating on giving her customers what they want, and it’s working—the toy store has become a popular hang out for kids in the Excelsior area.
Yap, of course, is half of the experience at Something Safari as she is very well known and well liked among customers. She helps them in picking out the perfect gift for their children or grandchildren, and even provides free gift-wrapping for any occasion. Melissa Anderson, a frequent shopper at Something Safari, loves the store’s unique quality and service. “Whenever we go there, the owner remembers my daughter’s name and even her grandma’s name, who also shops there. The owner and staff are so knowledgeable about age appropriate gifts and the latest and greatest toys. [It’s] a wonderful store with exceptional customer service.”
Clearly, bigger doesn’t always mean better—and in this case, customers love the small scale service and attention. “It’s the only toy store my family goes to,” Anderson says. Local is always popular in the Twin Cities, and Something Safari is no exception.