WYOMING, Mich. — For nearly a quarter-century now, visitors at the biannual Grand Rapids Toy Show get a chance to stroll down memory lane.
On Saturday, toy collectors from across the country came to the Home School Building at 5625 Burlingame Avenue S.W. to check out everything from antique toys, to battery-operated and wind-ups, dolls, playsets, cars and much more.
Toy Show organizer Jerry Dorer told FOX 17’s Sarah Grimmer, “we get people who say all the time, ‘You know, if I don’t find anything, can I get my money back?’ They always walk out with a bagful!”
Toy collector Christopher Sparling came all the way from Chicago to participate in the show. Originally from Byron Center, he says his company brought its show to town just to check out the 24th annual Grand Rapids Toy Show, and get a feel for how many collectors are in the area – and see what they like. It also was an opportunity to expand the company’s sales territory and grow its collection, he said.
“We mostly do the Kane County (Illinois) toy show, which is the largest toy show in the country…just under a thousand vendors, actually. It’s pretty large, but this is a good show (in Wyoming). It’s been pretty steady; so, doing pretty well so far.”
Sparling says he checks to see what condition a toy is in, as a top priority. But also important is the nostalgic value.
“I think a lot of people just collect for five, 10 minutes a day. ‘Hey, can I go back to my childhood? Can I relive some of those fun memories?’ And, you know, I find things that I had when I was a kid, my brother and I had…and it just brings back memories. It’s all the fun times. Just really kind of enjoy going back in time.”
Toy collector Derek Trovillion said, “This is one of my favorite events, really. One of the best in Grand Rapids…honestly, nostalgia is probably the biggest part of it.”
You can buy, sell or trade at the Toy Shows.
Saturday’s Toy Show ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with more than 200 tables full of childhood nostalgia. It was free for children younger than 12 to enter, and $5 per person for everyone else.
The next Grand Rapids Toy Show will be on December 7th. But organizers say toy vendors should start signing up as early as September, because the tables tend to sell out very quickly.