By Chloe Bruning
Mixed in with the restaurants, nail salons, and banks that find their home in the newly renovated Bedford Marketplace is a new Learning Express flagship location. Learning Express Toys, as well as the new space and concept Learning Express Play, will be opening on September 23.
The Learning Express Toys flagship store is much more than just a specialty toy store. In addition to selling the specialty toys that Learning Express is known for, this location will also be a testing site for outside toy companies to see which toys children will gravitate to.
Arguably more exciting than the new Learning Express Toys store is the Learning Express Play space located adjacent to the store. The play space is a little kid’s fantasy. There are a handful of “storefronts” each of which will provide a different play and learning experience for kids.
There is the marketplace with a register and a drive-thru window. There is a design center to work on the latest Lego creations. There is a dress up area complete with stage where kids can put on shows for their families and other play space visitors. There is a retro-50s diner where kids can be chefs, waiters and waitresses, or patrons. Along with all these storefronts, in the 1,000 square foot space, families will find room for more active play including a gym with a slide, a rock climbing wall, a trampoline, and other gymnastics equipment.
While the kids run around the play space, parents can sit and watch while drinking coffee from the cafe located inside the playspace. The café offerings are locally sourced from the Prince Street Cafe in Bedford, which is located just down the street. Learning Express worked with the Prince Street Cafe to create a healthy and unique set of menu options for both kids and parents.
Along with open play space, Learning Express Play is offering classes ranging from gym classes to dance classes. They will also offer birthday parties in the play space. There will be a selection of themes to choose from and Learning Express will do the rest, from set-up to clean up.
Many items that the children can play with in the play space – like the Lego sets in the design center storefront – will be available for purchase in the Learning Express Toys store. While they have more than 100 stores nationwide, this is the first play space of its kind for Learning Express.
The daughter of the founder of Learning Express, Lauren Derse, created the play space.
“My kids and I have been traveling around to different play centers to see what does work and what doesn’t work,” Derse said, “it’s a combination of all the best parts of other play spaces and children’s museums.”