Wonderland Books & Toys Opens in Manchester, N.H.

Wonderland Books & Toys, a children's book and toy store, made its debut last month in Manchester, N.H. 

Owner Deirdre A.L. Shaw opened the store on a limited basis on April 20. Located at 245 Maple St. #12, Wonderland carries books for infants through teens, along with a variety of board games, puzzles, activity kits, and other nonbook items. The shop spans about 3,500 square feet and includes a retail floor, office and storage space, and an event space that is still being completed.

Once the event space is ready to open, which Shaw expects to happen later in the summer, it will be used for hosting things like author readings, book clubs, birthday parties, music performances, and weekly storytime sessions. She also plans to host an official opening event when the space is complete.

Deirdre A.L. Shaw

"The idea has been in my mind for at least 10-plus years," Shaw said. She started researching the possibility of opening a bookstore of her own while living in Denver, Colo., prior to 2014. "Then moves, a pandemic, and life in general kept pushing it back." Last fall, an opportunity finally presented itself and "all of the pieces started falling into place."

Shaw noted that she has prior retail experience with books as well as other items. She worked as a sales associate at the Curious George Store in Cambridge, Mass., as well as its Make Way for Ducklings pop-up store in Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace, before they closed permanently a few years ago. She took those jobs, Shaw explained, "to confirm that I really did want to open a children's book and toy store," and learn as much as she could about all aspects of the business. Her other retail experience includes clothing, crafts, and the performing arts.

Beyond her retail experience, Shaw has worked in the children's section of a public library, ran a pre-K through grade 8 school library, and studied child psychology. She also described herself as an "avid reader, supporter, and proponent of children's literature" going back decades, with children's literature encompassing everything from board books to YA novels.

"Reading, being read to, doing puzzles, playing with toys, playing board games with friends and family, creating art, writing and telling stories, and exploring the world--real and imaginary--will help make the world a better place, a place that we all need," Shaw said.

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