Melissa Pia Bossola Beese describes herself as "chief playtime office" at Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe.
Melissa Pia Bossola Beese launched her subscription toy service
, Little Pnuts
, in 2012. Since then, the subscription market has exploded — there's a box for everything from pet toys to maternity clothes. Now Beese is thinking outside the box: she'll celebrate the grand opening
of Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe (209 Harrison Ave., 855-545-7688) Saturday, March 7.
"We're bringing in all the brands we work with [in the subscription boxes], and even more brands," Beese says. "We're able to carry marble runs, push and pull toys, ride-on toys, games, arts-and-crafts activities. ... And our local subscribers are elated they can come to the store and pick up toys in addition to their subscription."
Beese opened the toy shop almost as an afterthought. Working from home was becoming a challenge, so she decided to rent an office space with a small storefront. When her first-choice rental fell through, she found a 1,000-square-foot space on Harrison Avenue, but the retail space outstripped the office area.
"The office shrunk, and the store became the focal point," says Beese, a mother of two. "[The store] helps us with expanding the brand and allowing people to experience toys they can't find in Target. To have one-on-one conversations helping people understand what their children need is exciting."
Beese became something of an expert on children's developmental milestones after her first son was born 14 weeks premature. Beese worked through his sensory development issues, and in the process, discovered European brands of educational, interactive toys that foster imaginative play. With the Little Pnuts subscription service, she made these eco-friendly toy brands, including HABA, Djeco and Janod, available internationally, and tailored each box to the child's age.
The toy subscription service took off. In its first year, Little Pnuts exceeded sales goals by 191 percent. Beese racked up features in national publications and blogs, including Forbes
, Working Mother
and Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine.
Her business continues to expand.
"We're at a 30 to 60 percent renewal rate, depending on the month," says Beese, who has since added travel activity boxes and custom curated boxes to the selection. "And we're growing."
Beese credits the popularity of box subscription services to an overworked population. "There isn’t a lot of time for shopping, and on the weekends, [parents] want to spend time with kids or do the laundry," she says. "[Little Pnuts] helps people find the things they won't find anywhere else. ... It cuts out the extra research and keeps it simple."
From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 7, Little Pnuts Toy Shoppe (209 Harrison Ave., 855-545-7688) celebrates its grand opening. There will be Champagne, refreshments, giveaways and gift bags for the first 25 customers.