Owner Amy Herrington’s business includes the Book Nest Toy Store and Pottery Painting Studio.
Twenty-five years goes fast when you’re having fun. Just ask Babies to Kids and Book Nest Toy Store owner Amy Herrington, who has been in her dream job in Flagstaff since 1996.
“I love my business,” said Herrington, who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Babies to Kids this month. “It’s not like work to me. It’s a joy and a privilege and I’ve made so many wonderful friends.”
Babies to Kids has been at its current location in Flagstaff’s Kachina Square Shopping Center since it opened. Today, it includes Babies to Kids, Book Nest Toy Store and Pottery Painting Studio and Mercantile.
“We try to sell open-ended toys – toys that encourage children to use their minds and imagination,” she said.
Herrington added to her toy line when she purchased the Book Nest in 2000, then added a teachers’ supply store a few years later. “We had enough space here, so we thought we’d combine stores. The Book Nest Mercantile part of the store is for adult gifts such as home décor, Flagstaff- imprinted gifts, cookbooks, kitchenware, shirts, jewelry, candles and more. We wanted to have something for everybody.”
“I’ve been shopping at Babies to Kids for 15 years,” said Country Club Dental co-owner Sarah Whitney. “I’ve purchased both of my children’s cribs, who are now 12 and 14, along with other furniture. Their selection of quality and adorable gifts is expansive. For busy working moms, Babies to Kids and The Book Nest are the best in town and the staff is so friendly. I value their input for suggestions for the perfect gift.”
To give families a fun experience, Herrington added a paint-your-own-pottery studio in the store in 2011, complete with a kiln. “We have tables and chairs on site for customers to come in and paint their own pottery, then we glaze and fire their masterpieces. The pottery studio is also available to reserve for birthday parties, baby showers and other gatherings.
Babies to Kids Manager Corina Chance has worked at the store for almost nine years. “I was visiting the store one day and Amy asked if I wanted a job. The crazy thing is that I had just left a job a week earlier. I never thought I’d be in a retail position, but I really like it. Amy has become like an aunt to me. She is a servant to everyone and always puts customers first. She is a huge example of what I want to be like.”
During the last year, Herrington says that the store has been thriving. “We had our strongest year in 2020. During the pandemic, home-schooling supplies sold like crazy. People loved to come in because it was a comfort for them. I think people wanted to get something special for their children. Also, there was a resurgence of people wanting to shop locally.”
“Babies to Kids is more than a toy store,” said JLB Project Founder and artist Anna LaBenz. “It’s a community. Amy cares deeply for those who visit her store and she is a wonderful resource to those of us who are navigating parenthood. She has taken a toy store and created something more – a place for kids to come and explore and a place for parents and grandparents to come and receive guidance. We are so lucky to have this store in Flagstaff.”
Herrington attends trade shows and researches products, but claims the best product information comes from her customers. “We see what the community needs and bring it in. Every year we seem to expand.”
“It’s been such a pleasure to be there,” said Babies to Kids Sales Associate Kerina Wachara. “One thing I really like about Amy is how involved the store is with the community. People come and enjoy the environment and the products.”
“I have multi-generational customers,” said Herrington. “We are now seeing the children of mothers who came to shop 25 years ago. They’re shopping for their children, and grandmothers are shopping for their grandchildren.”
Born in Orange County, California, Herrington married her childhood sweetheart, Sean, and moved to Flagstaff in 1994. “We try to invest back into the community by having a wonderful shop,” she said. “Sean is in construction, so he has built all the displays and makes sure everything is sailing smooth. He’s my biggest supporter and attends trade shows with me as well.”
In her free time, Herrington enjoys spending time with family, cuddling with grandchildren, going to the lake, playing with her three dachshunds and the toys she sells. “Someone has to test them,” she said with a laugh.
“I always shop The Book Nest Mercantile for Mother’s Day,” said retired Northern Arizona University administrator Lucy Hegg. “They carry a lot of products that big box stores don’t have. I like shopping Babies to Kids for my grandchildren, too, as their toys are unique educational toys and a great selection for kids.” FBN
By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN
Babies to Kids and Book Nest Toy Store are located at 2632 North Steves Blvd.