Welcome Snapdoodle Toys & Games to the Issaquah Highlands community! Snapdoodle is the newest business to open at Grand Ridge Plaza, located next to Wells Fargo Bank on Highlands Drive. Snapdoodle has two other locations in the region in Redmond and Kenmore. We interviewed owner, Rob Pickering, to learn more about his family, his business and what the community can expect at the grand opening on Saturday, September 28.
When will Snapdoodle Toys and Games open in Grand Ridge Plaza?
Rob: So we actually opened yesterday [September 14], but the store is definitely not complete or perfect yet. We have more lighting and play-tables and rugs to put in before the grand opening on Saturday, September 28, but so many kind families, including some grandparents, popped their heads in all week asking when we were opening. The manager, Kara Popp, coaches soccer at Eastside FC and Eastlake High School, so she already rounded up a number of family members, friends, and even some of her players to help open the store.
How did you get into the toy business? When did you start Snapdoodle?
Rob: We first created Snapdoodle Toys in Kenmore about 12 years ago when we heard that the local specialty toy store owner was retiring and closing. I was a stay-at-home dad for 12 years with an 8-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. Ethan, my son, even came up with the name Snapdoodle Toys. I was on six non-profit boards in the area at the time, from soccer and PTA to parks and school foundations, and felt like it was a perfect time to re-enter the world of work….but is a toy store really “work?” Ha!
Running just the one toy store allowed me to still be home with the kids, coach and be part of the community. My wife is an executive at Philips Healthcare in Bothell for the last 20 years, on and off, but also has a major role in helping run Snapdoodle Toys with her MBA background and her few years as corporate controller at Sur La Table in Seattle. We grew a few years later when we purchased Tree Top Toys in Redmond when the owner retired and then, amazingly, we were offered Top Ten Toys in Seattle about 18 months ago when that owner decided to retire. Top Ten Toys is one of the largest toy stores on the West Coast. As we officially open the Issaquah Highlands store on the 28th, we are also changing the name of Kenmore, Redmond and even Top Ten Toys to Snapdoodle Toys & Games! Games have become such an important part of our family and region that we couldn’t help but add them to our store names. Our stores have adult coloring nights, Pokémon nights, game nights and many other events to help us become even more a part of the communities we are in.
Tell us more about yourself and your wife, Cherry:
Rob: Cherry and I met while living in a grad school dorm at UCLA over 30 years ago. She was working on an MBA in Finance and Technology and I received two masters, in Education and Latin American Studies. Cherry was born in the Philippines and her parents, a sister and brother live in Manila. I was born a sixth generation Washingtonian in Seattle. My parents went to Roosevelt High School and the University of Washington, and their parents went to Broadway High School and Seattle Prep on Capitol Hill. Our family is huge into soccer, travelling, education, and community!
Why did you decide to expand your business to Issaquah Highlands?
Rob: We picked the Highlands after researching and driving around the Sammamish Plateau and Issaquah areas. We knew this is an area on the rise in the Seattle region. Modern homes, great transportation hub, fantastic schools, supportive parents, and folks from all over the world who are attracted to working in the Seattle area. We assumed we might be lucky enough to get on a list for future retail locations being built around Grand Ridge Plaza and Swedish, and completely lucked out when a current tenant was interested in moving.
Our customers tend to be more educated, more traveled and more thoughtful about their decisions for their children and families. We try to provide more expert advice, much higher quality toys (often with international designs), and we provide free gift wrapping. And yes, we are somewhat old fashioned! We don’t sell anything online, but we do have whoopie cushions and wood blocks. Ha!
Will we see you and Cherry at the Issaquah Highlands store?
Rob: Cherry is frequently traveling for work to Atlanta and Boston, but you will definitely be seeing us in Issaquah, just much more of me!
What can community members expect at the Grand Opening on September 28 at Grand Ridge Plaza?
Rob: Our grand opening should be a wonderful community event. We will have reps and employees doing various demos, giveaways, a fun prize wheel, cookies/treats and face painting from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm that day. We are super excited to be in Issaquah Highlands and Grand Ridge Plaza!