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Against the Tide: Tim and Janet Gessner


The first toy I remember was actually a blanket. I adored it … but all my memories of playing included big metal Tonka trucks. The best customer I ever had would be any who walk through our doors with an open mind. We hope all of our customers enjoy our service and most leave smiling.
The cutest kid we ever saw is every kid I ever saw. Each child shines with their own light.

The good thing about being in the toy business is its consistency. Many people think toyshops only have big holidays to fall back on. Children continue to throw birthday parties, and that is our bread and butter. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s just the most fun job ever. Although it is a business and work is hard, we play, laugh, and learn every day.

If I weren’t running Deep River Toy Company I would probably go back into teaching. I am a para-educator and enjoy working with elementary aged kids, but my dream would be to survive as an artist. I love working with my hands, and I enjoy weaving or throwing bowls on the pottery wheel. I would also go clamming every day if I could.

We live here because of the community. Small towns with sidewalks … good schools and changing seasons. We love the Connecticut River Valley area and all it offers—it’s not like this everywhere. I want to raise my family in a town that still has a sense of what it’s like to know neighbors and support local business. The hellos, the waves, and smiles … I like that personalization. Our best Christmas memory is the year we sponsored a family. It is so much better to give than receive. The store is so busy during Christmas, wrapping paper flying, hand selling, customers trying to hide purchases from kids—it’s crazy fun and goes by very fast. I think my strongest memory is repetitive.

On Christmas Eve, as the store wraps up the last package and I close up shop, I look around and see scattered shelves, smile, and realize after 45 strong days of sales, it’s finally my turn to go home to my own family. Here’s how I would explain Santa Clause to little kids: Let’s assume they are pinning me down because, let’s face it, we all skirt that question unless forced. I teach my children about Saint Nicholas and how he would place gold coins in stockings; concrete evidence works best with my children, enhanced with words like, “It must be magic” to “I just don’t know.” You receive the joys of the holiday season by some of the unknowns. Believing is the gift.

The best thing about toys is that they are often a masked learning tool. We keep our minds busy all the time, stimulating our senses and building social skills. Children gain that through play. Matching the right toy for its use gives me pleasure. It is also pretty neat seeing generations of toys evolve and many staying the same. The tried and true—jump ropes, Slinky®, Silly Putty®, and pick up sticks—classics that have stayed with us. I follow the historical current and future trends. As any good toy storeowner, we know and love what we do.

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By: Staff

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