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Austin’s Treasured Toy Joy Brings Wonderfully Weird Whimsy to Burnet Road

Award-winning toy store brings joy to the community with toys, novelties, collectables, ice cream and a space to gather and play

Toy Joy COO, partner, and curator, Robby Pettinato (photo by Ana Elizondo)

Fun-makers of Austin since 1987, the Toy Joy team has a rich history of bringing smiles to kids of all ages with whimsical and quirky toys, books, gifts and novelties. Longtime Austin residents wax nostalgic about the store’s original location in Hyde Park on Guadalupe, as there was something inherently and immediately magical about both the store’s inventory and also its sense of community – always making the joy of toys accessible to all. Recently, Toy Joy opened its newest location on Burnet Road, welcoming in old fans of the brand as well as many newcomers to Austin. At its inception through today, Toy Joy remains as wonderful and eclectic as the spirit of old Austin in its “keeping it weird” heyday. 

Toy Joy COO, current partner, and principal toy curator, Robby Pettinato, remembers walking into the store as a visitor to Austin in his youth, mesmerized by the place, being completely drawn in from the start. 

“Toy Joy has the benefit of having existed when Austin was genuinely, truly weird. So we get to carry that ethos into our brand forevermore. It’s always going to be part of our roots and our history.’”  

You can’t miss the pop of bright pink at Toy Joy on Burnet Road

Playfulness that appeals to all ages

We recently visited the store’s newest location (5501 Burnet Rd.), and we were instantly charmed by Pettinato, a purveyor of pure delight, as well as the colorful shop itself, a haven for weirdos and whimsy. Toy Joy is a space designed for all generations to enjoy. Pettinato notes, “Nobody really outgrows toys.” While it might feel like a toy store is supposed to be for kids, you can see that this particular shop has unique items that could appeal to 8-year-olds, 18-year-olds or 80-year-olds. Pettinato adds, “Societal constructs shouldn’t limit anyone from expressing themselves through games and play.” 

Everything about this particular shop exudes a playful spirit. The building’s exterior is painted in a bright pink hue with drips of neon green slime (a nod to that unmistakable 90s nostalgia). Towering atop the building is a large neon sign featuring the Toy Joy mascot, Otto the cat. Pettinato gave us a tour of the space, which is fifty percent larger than the previous location on Airport Rd. It includes an area for the soon-to-come Yummi Joy that will feature delicious candies as well as a scoop shop serving locally-made, Gati vegan ice creams. 

Bright and colorful Toy Joy interior is packed with toys, games, and more (photo by Ana Elizondo)

Space for community connections

One extra special element to this store is an overhanging loft space that allows the Toy Joy team to host regular gatherings for game and hobby enthusiasts. Here you can expect Dungeons & Dragons game nights, toy swaps, Gundam model-building groups, and even birthday parties to come. 

With this community space, Pettinato noted how this will be an approachable, accessible place for anyone and everyone interested in learning how to play popular group games, talk about their collections, and spend time face-to-face making interpersonal connections. The open-to-all environment is approachable and welcoming for all skill levels and is surely a space where new friendships will flourish. 

Everyone is welcome

Pettinato shares with heartfelt sincerity, “The most important component of Toy Joy above all else is making sure that we remain an exciting and accessible place for people of all backgrounds. No matter your age, or how you identify yourself, or who you love, or your race – you should be super welcomed and happy in Toy Joy. Everyone should be comfortable and excited to unlock that inner child of theirs and play and socialize in a way that they are accepted for who they are. Pick up a new hobby or just get out of the rut of day to day life and feel joy. I mean, JOY is in our name.” 

Toy curator, Robby Pettinato (photo by Ana Elizondo)

Burnet Road is a great fit for Toy Joy

Their new home on Burnet Road seems like a perfect fit for the brand. With neighbors such as Voodoo Donuts, East Side Pies, Atown, and the Little Longhorn Saloon, this stretch of Burnet Road is reminiscent of those South Congress funky vibe of years’ past. Company CEO Teghan Hahn, says,  “We are excited to join other iconic Austin businesses in the district and deliver our fun toys and treats to what is now our third generation of customers in a great new space. We are looking forward to future growth!”

Now celebrating their 35th anniversary in Austin with three locations (including Burnet Road, 2nd Street, and a shop in the Austin Bergstrom International Airport), Toy Joy is consistently voted one of the top 10 toy stores in the world. We’re just glad to have this right here in our hometown – a friendly and zany space to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Toy Joy’s bright pink and playful exterior

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