Unique toy store opens in downtown Pleasanton

Capt'n Jack Spareribs thrills youngsters at Your Stage Toys performance

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, 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, 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.

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Like this comment
Posted by Roseann Edge
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2009 at 8:47 am

I needed a birthday gift for a 3 year old on Sunday and headed downtown to "DoodleBug". As you probably know, it was gone. Luckily I notice a Toys sign across the street. I wandered into Your Stage Toys and was delighted to find many, many choices for a gift. I settled on a wood doll set with clothes. The price was right too-only $12.95. One of the lovely daughters wrapped the gift beautifully. Its a charming shop and I think a wonderful place for a kids party.

Like this comment
Posted by SallyG
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jun 8, 2009 at 8:49 am

Hooray! A new business on Main St. that's not another bank!

Like this comment
Posted by Bob Dodd
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2009 at 9:25 am

This store rocks! The decor truly is unique and inviting. And the choice of "product" choice is terrific. With the stage in the back, its a very cool place for a birthday party and to also check out other fun acts and music. Be sure to check this place out!

Like this comment
Posted by Valerie C
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 8, 2009 at 10:28 am

I love this store, and you will, too! Everything about it is first class, and it's great that you won't find a battery or electric cord with any of the items in their diverse inventory! Lets kids be the best they can be, and provides enormous help to their parents by wrapping and delivering gifts, and soon planning wonderful birthday parties. Looking forward to supporting this local family-owned business for years to come!

Like this comment
Posted by Rina
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

I'm also happy to see a store called Thriving Ink. It's a t-shirt store for teenagers. Teenagers spend A LOT of money, and the more stores for teenagers downtown the better. Where I used to live there were many stores catering to teenagers in town and they were in business for my entire child and teenage-hood. Jewelery, clothes and accessories for teenagers were very popular, and then of course the teenagers ate in town as well. Main street needs to serve someone besides the Botox and nails crowd.

Like this comment
Posted by Surprised
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 8, 2009 at 11:37 am

I did not know Doodlebug went out of Business. I was at the Farmers Market in November and it was still there. That was a really good idea to put in another toy store. I have two young nieces, so I will have to check it out. I agree, they need to put things in that cater to teens. My teen told me about Yolotee, the frozen yogurt, gelato shop, and she showed me where it is, although its a bit hidden-next to the old Koln hardware, in the alley, its a hit with the teens.

Like this comment
Posted by olfthfl
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 8, 2009 at 11:41 am

To Rina and SallyG I can only say "Amen"

Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 8, 2009 at 2:31 pm

"Hooray! A new business on Main St. that's not another bank!"

Reading your comment made me smile because I was going to write the exact same thing!

Its a standing joke in our family, that if we see an empty store front in Pleasanton, we bet on which bank will take its place.

Like this comment
Posted by Haa Haa
a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Didnt you hear? Their going to open up a bank INSIDE the toy store just in case the 500 we have isnt enough.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay
a resident of Fairlands Elementary School
on Sep 26, 2009 at 10:29 am

Needed a gift for a birthday party and didn't have a lot of time. The staff helped me pick something age-appropriate for a very reasonable price. Free gift-wrapping was a huge bonus!

Like this comment
Posted by Nancy Hoagland
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2009 at 3:58 am

Although we live across the country from the Nitzsche's I will be sure to tell those I meet who live in the area to visit YST! I hope my family can visit the story in person one day soon too! In the meantime, I'll be looking online! All the best to Dee and Rob, who are absolutely fantastic people we really miss here in Chicago!

Love, The Hoagland's (Wilmette IL)

Like this comment
Posted by Bob S.
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 2, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Well used to be San Ramon and now in Colorado. However I know Rob. I also know Dee and have seen them as a Family with the 3 girls. I know Rob and Dee are good at finding out ways to help and challenge not only their kids, but other kids as well. I know the Store will serve many in incredible ways.

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