It should come as no surprise that the staff of the Children’s Museum loves toy stores, especially ones thoughtfully curated and filled with items that encourage imaginative play. So, of course, we’re fans of East Hampton’s Petit Blue and its owner, Colleen Moeller. You can actually find many of Petit Blue’s toys in the Museum! We recently chatted with Colleen about the importance of open-ended play, dressing up as Baby Shark, and her favorite toy in the store.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Why did you decide to open a toy store?
Petit Blue was created while living in Europe for over a decade. The European lifestyle and toys inspired me to open the first Petit Blue (“Where dreams come true”) in Hamburg, Germany. A mom of three children, the toys at Petit Blue are a living part of our lifestyle and brand.
Having The Hamptons location is ideal as we re-located and my children are at the Ross School in East Hampton. I am able to be part of a dynamic community and stay close to my children. Petit Blue is a dream come true.
How do European toys tend to differ from American ones?
The best toys are safe and natural wood and fabric toys from Europe, and America for the youngest children… From rattles and soft toys to comfort babies to stacking and sorting toys for toddlers to classic building blocks, puzzles, and stuffed animals, Petit Blue carries an imaginative selection of European and American toys that will be loved by children and parents alike.
HABA produces most of its wooden toys in Germany, and they use non-toxic paints and finishes. HABA’s timber comes from sustainable forests from Germany, Finland, and Russia. Their paints are water-based and free of all solvents.
Why is open-ended and imaginative play so important for child development?
Open-ended play allows children to explore new ideas and concepts, provides a low-stress environment where they are less afraid of making mistakes, helps them develop social and emotional Intelligence, allows kids to teach themselves, and creates the ideal circumstances for children to enter “flow” (a “fully immersed mental state that optimizes learning”).
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Petit Blue? What changes have you had to make?
Petit blue had to re-invent its business model— balloons and toys were delivered free of charge while I dressed as a Baby Shark.
This created a great sense of happiness and joy for the community during this period of social distancing. The Baby Shark joined the drive-by birthdays and spread joy and happiness to the children on their special days. I even delivered the balloons to many adults who needed to smile and a reminder that we are all in this together. The balloons and party goods are now a very important aspect of the business. Petit Blue offers delivery and year-round party supplies to our amazing community.
If you had to choose just one, what is your favorite toy in the store?
The Baghera Gas Station Pump is a beautiful, vintage metal station to enrich your young one’s imagination and passion for antique cars. It features a functional handle that creates a ding with each turn and a flexible pipe that can be removed from its support.
The red, classic design also makes for a playful, inspiring decor in the playroom or garage. It’s the perfect gift for boys and girls.
Petit Blue is located at 86 Park Place in East Hampton. (631) 658-9222