Where'd you get your first hula hoop? Your first Slinky? The little toy elephant, the one on wheels with the pully string, that you dragged around the house for most of the early 1970s?
Chances are if you grew up in Los Angeles, and had a parent who frequented our city's longtime meet 'n hang spot -- that would be the Original Farmers Market at Third & Fairfax, natch -- you found a game or doll you loved at Kip's Toyland, one of our city's most venerable toy shops.
And as storefronts cycle through the decades and too often shutter, Kip's, which is called "LA's oldest toy store," has kept on keepin' on through seven decades. The friendly, crowded-with-cuteness spot has sold truckloads of puppets and magic tricks and wooden animals and the sweet stuff of childhood all from its not-too-huge spot on the northside of the famous public market.
Founded by Irvin Kipper and still run by the Kipper family, Kip's remains a neighborhood favorite, one that's weathered changing toy trends and bigger stores opening nearby and the fun found in the games of the digital age, too.
And as with any classic that caters to childhood fun, there's a birthday party in the works, on Sunday, Oct. 11. Look for carnival booths on the Farmers Market Plaza, and games and toys, and "a three-member toy soldier band," and, of course, cake in honor of Kip's 70th.
It's a cute twist: Of all the times you've visited a toy shop ahead of a birthday party, can you ever recall attending a birthday party for a toy shop?
The party is on from noon to 3 o'clock, and, no, you do not have to arrive with a gift for Kip's Toyland, but here's another twist, of the nice kind: Buy a toy to donate to Children's Hospital Los Angeles and get ten-percent off your donation purchase. (Oh, and "a goodie bag," too, a staple of every birthday party.)
In short, the party isn't just a party but a giveback toy drive, too. And that, right there, is how a sweet shop becomes a city classic, beyond selling jacks and balls and stuffed bears.
Of course, if you also want to pick up a Slinky for yourself, because it brings back memories of visiting Farmers Market with your mom, back in 1963, as she met a friend for coffee, and you played with your coiled new treasure around the patios of the landmark, well, you can take that happy walk down memory lane, too.