• Learning Express Toys of Lake Zurich: Making a difference in its community

    Four children and four adults standing in toy store. The children are holding toys they selected. Members of the Dave Farbaky Foundation, Aloha Construction and Omni Youth Services pose with the family selected for a shopping spree.

    Learning Express Toys values being “your local neighborhood toy store.” Part of that means being a good neighbor by helping organizations in our local communities.

    It all started in 1987. Learning Express, Inc. was originally founded as a way to raise funds for a school in Groton, Massachusetts. That value of generosity has remained a key part of our franchise system as we’ve grown to over 120 locations nationwide. Each store owner partners with local schools, foundations, charities, and parent-teacher organizations to help local kids and families.

    As a recent example, Learning Express Toys of Lake Zurich, Illinois hosted a shopping spree for a local family in need in partnership with the Dave Farbaky Foundation and Aloha Construction. Four sisters had 90 seconds to run around the store with large bag each and grab as many toys as they wanted. The foundation’s purpose is to foster “random acts of kindness” for families in need.

    Store owner Rick Derr was moved by the experience of helping the family.

    "At the end, after the four girls shopped, I said, 'I want to thank you for shopping here and providing us a glimpse of giving,'" Rick told the Chicago Tribune. "One of them, about 7 years old, said, 'No, I want to thank you.' And they all looked you in the eye. I felt they were literally good kids. I thanked their mother, too. They were humble."

    Read the full story about the Lake Zurich shopping spree from the Chicago Tribune here.

    Handwritten sign saying "Welcome Dave Farbaky Foundation"Each of our store owners has a story similar to Rick’s about helping local families and making children smile. We strive to be good community members – by partnering with other local businesses, serving local families and helping local organizations. This commitment sets Learning Express Toys apart as a true neighborhood toy store: a value that keeps our customers loyal and our store owners involved and dedicated.

    To learn how store ownership can help organizations in your local community, please visit our franchise page.

  • Learning Express Toys Nationwide Support Super Baskets of Hope

    Learning Express Toys franchise owners rallied their support around Super Baskets of Hope following a request from Diane Bowser, owner of the Denville, New Jersey, Learning Express Toys location.

    Volunteers from the New York metro area gathered not far from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford—location of the 2014 Super Bowl—to package thousands of baskets for delivery by NFL players to children in local hospitals. Specifically, the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee along with the Giants and Jets are distributing this year’s baskets. The Super Baskets of Hope project occurs each year in and around the Super Bowl host city.

    A grassroots effort led by Bowser helped to bring together Learning Express Toys franchisees nationwide in support of Super Baskets of Hope. Bowser sent an email to all Learning Express Toys locations requesting Rainbow Loom kits, refills, and organizers. Within minutes, her email box was flooded with donations from store owners.

    “Learning Express Toys is dedicated to community support,” says Bowser. “And I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Learning Express Toys family.”

    In total, Bowser gathered 750 Rainbow Loom kits and more than 1,000 packs of refill bands. Additionally, Bowser, along with Lauren and Mike Derse from the Home Office of Learning Express Toys and other Learning Express storeowners and staff from the NY/Metro region helped to package the baskets and totes for delivery.

    “Diane personifies the incredible generosity of our owners,” says Lauren Derse, Learning Express Toys director of marketing. “Her initiative in organizing this donation was exemplary. We are fortunate to have such wonderful franchisees.”

    Headquartered in Massachusetts, Learning Express Toys was founded in 1987 by Sharon DiMinico, who continues at the helm today. The nation’s leading franchisor of specialty toy stores, Learning Express Toys now has more than 130 stores nationwide with several new locations opening annually.

    Photo caption: Dick and Diane Bowser (Denville Learning Express Toys Owners) with Washington Redskins Cornerback DeAngelo Hall and his wife, Jada Hall, at the Super Baskets of Hope packaging day.