GOOD Maker Challenge Winner: Minnesota Toy Store Brings Play to Children and Adults
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This June, we announced the GOOD Maker Happy Side of Business challenge, which asked small business owners to tell us why they had the most innovative and outstanding customer service. We received a ton of great submissions, and we are excited to announce the winner of the $10,000 grant as Air Traffic Kites & Games of Burnsville, MN.
Air Traffic Kites & Games is on a mission to enrich people’s lives through play. And, fittingly, the idea for the store all started from a day at the beach. In 1987, owner, founder, and kite enthusiast Jim Henry began teaching curious strangers on the beach how to fly trick kites. And now 24 years later, Henry has gone from selling trick kites out of the back of a van to having six Minnesota-based toy stores that any child or adult can feel at home in.
Company owner and founder Jim Henry flying a kite (a Prism Snapshot 2.5, to be precise) at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. While it looks small in the photo, this kite can lift you off the ground in strong winds.
As you might imagine, the store is filled with items that make play fun. Shoppers will find classics like yo-yos and Frisbees, juggling equipment, and the latest specialty board games lining the walls of the stores top to bottom. But before shoppers get overwhelmed by the jam-packed shelves, Air Traffic’s incredibly helpful staff is ready to step in and offer guidance. “Air Traffic has, from its earliest days, been shaped by the staff members who so lovingly throw themselves into their work, and bring a passion for play to the table,” says Elissa Schufman, communications officer at Air Traffic.
The employees at Air Traffic go through two months of specialized training, including a crash course on European clown techniques. Yes—clowning. “We realized many of the principles of European clown would help employees navigate the chaos of retail, while encouraging them to respect customers, be genuine, and have fun,” says Schufman.