A new toy store that promises to be as unique in its merchandising as its owners, Dee and Rob Nitzsche, are in their concepts about what a successful toy store should be opened in downtown Pleasanton Saturday to several hundred children and their parents after a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting.
Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and City Councilman Jerry Thorne helped cut the ribbon to open Your Stage Toys at 63 E. Angela St. during a crowded Farmers Market. The new store is in the building that Berry Patch occupied before moving across the street last month.
It's an unusual venture for the Nitzsches, although the store with its open stage for performances, puppets and a global offering of toys that promote imagination fits in with the dreams and skills both have had along the way.
The Nitzsches have taken their profitable online business at www.yourstageinc.com, and added a "brick and mortar" component. The 1,000-square-foot store has display counters and racks of toys, hand puppets, and kid's room decor with a full stage in the back of the store, red curtain and all, where tots to teens can put on shows.
Capt'n Jack Spareribs, who was voted the "Best Family Fun" in the Bay Area for 2009, joined the Nitzsches for the grand opening, becoming the first of a number of guest performers for Saturday stage performances. Next Saturday, Magic Dan, a Bay Area favorite magician who has been entertaining audiences for the last 20 years, will perform on the Nitzsches' stage along with The Front Porch, a local folk band
The Nitzsches said they're planning performances at least once a week ranging from puppet performances, magic shows, musical presentations and dances. They're especially interested in bringing out the actor and actress in every youngster and will have professionals on hand to help youths create their own show.
Helping, too, are the Nitzsches' own daughters: Claire, 10; Natalie, 8, and Taylor, 6. The three, students at Valley View Elementary School, have musical and theatrical talents of their own and played a major part in their parents' plans for an actual retail store to advance the Nitzsches longtime dream are using their own artistic backgrounds in a business that serves children..
Probably none of their classmates at Purdue University where Rob Nitzsche received an industrial design degree in 1991 or at Michigan State and later Loyola University in Chicago where Dee graduated with a law degree would have guessed that nearly two decades later the two would own a toy business in Pleasanton, Calif.
Yet here they were Saturday, successful not only in their own professions but now the entrepreneurs of Your Stage Toys as well as www.yourstageinc.com, their Internet toy store that offers a wide variety of toys for fun, imagination and dreams.
Finding just the right spot for their daughters' birthday parties also gave the Nitzsches the idea for adding a birthday component at the new store. The plan is to have parents drop the birthday group off for an hour of play training by friends of the Nitzsches, move next door to Amelia's Restaurant where they have an agreement for food, a birthday cake and beverages, and then back to the store's stage where parents can watch their young act out the show they've learned.
The toy inventory is an added incentive for parties with party-goers able to order on the store's internet site and have their gifts wrapped and ready to hand out at the party. Even grandma in Chicago can send the offspring a gift if she can't come to Pleasanton for the party.
Dee, who has been a classic performer and plays in the Wyatt Riot band at Watson Wyatt where she works as a consultant, is also active with the Barton Learning Program at Valley View. Her interests over the years have been to help children with various learning disabilities and in promoting early reading intervention for children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.
Most children who struggle with learning disabilities, the Nitzsches have found, are gifted in other ways as evidenced by the high number of them who grow up to be artists and inventors. Celebrating "the whole" child has been foremost in their thinking as they developed the Your Stage Toys concept where children and their parents can find professional guidance and fun.
The store will be open daily at 10 a.m., closing at 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.