Progress 2013: Toy store for teachers, in the heart of downtown
Many a child has preferred toys to school. In downtown Henderson, The Teacher Store And More … is a teachers’ toy store capable of swinging those children back to the books.
“Its a good resource,” said owner Angie Hopfer.
And it attracts more than just teachers.
With puzzles from five pieces to 500, games and learning materials for all ages, classroom supplies and decorations have been supplied to Henderson and the surrounding areas since 2005.
Since 2009, Hopfer has dealt directly with wholesalers to provide fun materials designed for teaching.
“I’ve been in retail all my life,” Hopfer said. “I originally wanted a toy store, but a toy store alone can’t make it these days. Besides, I like the educational product.”
The only change Hopfer made after purchasing the store was to add “and more...” to the business’ name.
“I added the ‘and more...’ because we cater to everybody, not just teachers,” Hopfer said.
Her teller and friend of the family, Fonda Seay, explained that some parents and grandparents will purchase the materials to provide educational gifts for their children. Occasionally marketing directors for local churches and companies are attracted to the store for its extensive selection on bulletin board decorations.
Hopfer fills her inventory with standard school supplies, such as all of the books on the Henderson Collegiate reading list, and popular requests, like various ways to learn multiplication tables.
“I usually pick what’s new to inspire bright ideas for the new year,” she said.
Teachers, parents and tutors would have to spend the time, money and miles to find similar products if the store wasn’t located on Garnett Street.
Hopfer provides access to her products via a free catalog and active website that ships products all over the U.S. For many products, if the order comes through the store, the shipping is free.
Aside from its varied and unique inventory, the staff takes the time to assist anyone who walks through the doors.
“I’ve always been one to meet and greet people,” Hopfer said. “I try to treat people the way I want to be treated.”
“We do a lot of individual ordering, a lot of one-on-one conversing,” Seay said.
Talking with the customers has proven to be beneficial practice for both parties.
The consumers are generally presented with helpful suggestions, ideas and techniques that encourage learning as well as products’ location.
The conversation benefits Hopfer by providing her with feedback about the various products and ideas that help her to fill her shelves with the most effective and fun products.
“I always try to find ways to improve and make things better,” Hopfer said.
“We want to be able to offer the newest, up-to-date learning materials,” Seay said.
Seay also pointed out that sincere interest during these discussions builds a relationship with the customers resulting in genuine friendship and good publicity.
The Teacher Store’s customer service has created a number of loyal customers.
Early August is the busiest time of year. School accountants and parent teacher associations are frequent shoppers.
“The schools try to support us and our community by keeping their purchases local,” Seay said.
The opening of the school year and holidays usually create sales and email discounts, Hopfer said.
“I feel teachers get shacked,” Hopfer said. “They are worked too hard and given too many kids. I feel like I can help them out by making their jobs a little easier. I think they need it.”
During that time The Teacher Store displays various decoration items, everything from banners to bulletin boards and cutouts for the new year.
“Every child has a good teacher they remember,” Hopfer said. “Kids need to see happy things like bright, festive animals.”
Meanwhile, outside of The Teacher Store, Hopfer also donates her time, money and materials to surrounding churches, Boy and Girl Scouts, and youth groups.
“I have a soft spot for youth because I think they’re our future,” Hopfer said. “I think teachers think so too.”
“Angie is cheerful, friendly and optimistic,” Seay said. “She is a remarkable person and an inspiration to me.”
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