Santa's helpers
New Ely toy store bursting with imagination, and gift ideas for kids
Jodi Summit
J. Summit
Lilaina Severson, age 2, of Ely, seems taken with a display of polished rocks at the new Legacy Toy Store.

ELY- With Christmas just around the corner, Santa is getting some help from a new toy store that opened last month in Ely.

Legacy Toys might just be the largest toy store between here and the North Pole. And you might have to travel to the North Pole to find a more impressive selection of toys and gifts for children of all ages.

Legacy Toys was the brainchild of Brad and Mistaya Ruoho. Brad is a co-owner of Voltz Technologies, a firm that specializes in computer technology. The toy store does not stock the newest electronic toys or games, instead it specializes in toys that require imagination and creativity. The couple feels that creativity is one of the best legacies we can leave to our children. Mistaya is the former manager of the toy store at Wintergreen, so she is no stranger to the world of creative play.

“We want kids to get away from technology and focus on their imaginations,” said Brad. And by all accounts, the message is catching.

Brad said the store is attracting customers from as far away as Wisconsin.

“People are driving up to Ely from all over,” he said, noting that one family said they had come from the Wisconsin Dells area, just to visit the store.

A week-and-a-half before Christmas, the store was packed. The Ruohos’ three daughters were helping out, both behind the counter and giving gift suggestions to grandparents.

And the store is definitely a destination. The store stocks over 15,000 unique toys and books. But visitors also get a chance to try out some playthings, as well as see the 400-gallon saltwater fish tank (which should be ready for fish by the end of January). The tank is built into a giant tree that stretches up to the ceiling. The tree trunk provides storage capacity for the saltwater tank’s water system. Brad said his first job was in a pet store, and he has always enjoyed keeping fish tanks. The family lives on a 75-acre farm outside of Ely, where they have horses, goats, chickens, and more.

The store stocks “quality brands you can’t get at big box stores,” said Brad. Shoppers can find toys made in the USA, toys made of organic materials, toys imported from Europe, as well as more well-known favorites like LEGO. There is a wide selection of games for all ages, craft kits and materials, puzzles, books, stuffed animals, toys for creative play, dolls, toddler and infant toys, wooden trains, musical toys, and more. Some toys can’t be found in any other stores in the state, he said. More stock will be coming in all winter. Orders from several toy companies haven’t come in yet.

“We just want the store to be a fun place,” Brad said. “We all have to keep investing in our town.”

Judging by the reaction of children visiting the store on Saturday, the store is getting rave reviews.

“This is my favorite store,” said seven-year old Carter Krekleberg, who was looking through the selection of children’s books.

The store will be open 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. between now and Dec. 24, except for Sunday, when the store is closed. Regular hours will be Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The store will stay open until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve for last-minute shopping! The new store is located at 5 N. Central Av., about one-half block south of Sheridan Street.

The store is involving the community in some decisions. A contest was held to name one of the huge stuffed giraffes that decorate the store. Customers can sign up to receive special offers and follow store updates by liking the store’s Faceboook page.

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