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Mother, daughter bring 
toy store to Crystal Lake

(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com Lori McConville (left) and daughter Kate McConville flip through their business binders in front of the empty storefront in downtown Crystal Lake where they will open Marvin's Toy Store in the first two weeks of April.

CRYSTAL LAKE – A mother and daughter are teaming up to bring an imaginative new toy store to downtown Crystal Lake.

Marvin’s Toy Store will feature high-quality toys designed to encourage children to use their imagination, owner Lori McConville said. She is working with her daughter, Kate, on the passion project.

The store will take up about 1,350 square feet of space at 64-A N. Williams St. The space formerly was occupied by the Downtown Emporium. Marvin’s Toy Store is scheduled to open in April.

Lori McConville, a 51-year-old former teacher, dreamed up the store several years ago, but then the recession hit. When plans and financing for the venture came together last summer, she bowed out of the race for a seat on the McHenry County Board.

“I knew I couldn’t do both jobs,” she said. “And the prospects for the store kept getting better, so I chose this.”

Working with the Small Business Administration, Lori McConville came up with a business plan and her daughter started researching products.

Kate McConville, 27, delved into the work. She started with the kinds of toys she would buy her 7-year-old son, Riley. She then researched toymakers, looking for environmentally-friendly companies that produced safe, sustainable toys.

Lori McConville said they initially will invest about $60,000 in the store.

“With a conservative plan and good products, it can really work,” she said.

Marvin’s Toy Store will serve a growing niche of parents and children who want something different. It won’t carry battery-operated toys or play things found at big-box retailers and chain stores. Rather than focus on purely educational toys, Lori McConville will stock imaginative toys.

“Imaginative toys are open-ended,” she said. “These toys allow children to use what they already know and explore what they don’t know.”

Offerings will include play kitchen sets and toy trucks from Green Toys Inc. The company’s products are made entirely from recycled plastic – mostly milk jugs – and don’t contain BPA and other chemicals.

The store will also sell games, art and science products, and puzzles, building blocks and other toys for children of all ages.

Before opening in April, the store will host several focus groups, made up of children and parents, to try out the toys, Lori McConville said.

The store takes its name from Marvin, an elephant character Lori McConville created to welcome young students to school for the first time.

In January, the Crystal Lake City Council approved a $10,000 grant for Marvin’s Toy Store as part of its Retailer and Manufacturer Job Creation and Investment programs. Marvin’s Toy Store will have one full-time employee and two part-time employees.


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