Sometimes, in moments of uncertainty, the best ideas are born. This is precisely what happened to Gloriana Ramos Jiménez, who decided to face adversity after Hurricane Maria by channeling her energy into keeping her family unscathed through the endeavor of running a business, El Mercado de Juguetes.
Soon after coming up with the idea, she enlisted the help of her mother, Gloria del Carmen Jiménez, and her grandmother, Gloria Mercado, so that together they could turn an empty property in Barrio Cocos, Quebradillas into the toy store that would eventually become the largest one in northern Puerto Rico.
“It took over six months for the power in Quebradillas to come back. Because of this, many of the local toy stores had to cease their operations. While working at my family’s pharmacy, I took note of the fact that many people were looking for toys that the whole family could enjoy together,” said Ramos.
The entrepreneur went on to say that the period after Maria was the perfect opportunity to provide kids with a toy store that would promote family unity through the use of traditional games, reading, crafting, learning toys and workshops.
“We wanted a toy store that had something for kids of all ages. We wanted a place where people could come to touch, play and try the toys; not just buy them,” stated Ramos.
The 1,500-square-foot toy store designed by architect Julio González Feliciano, Ramos’ father, opened on Oct. 2018 and immediately won over the customers. Once the store was up and running, Ramos started thinking about expanding the shop.
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“Why not develop a play room where kids could learn about a toy and try It before buying it? Why not offer crafting, art, slime and reading workshops?,” wondered Ramos.
Months after its opening, El Mercado de Juguetes was expanded into a 3,000-square-feet shop that offers innovative toys from all over the world. Ramos offers toys from places like Sweden (Viking Toys), France (Corolle), Ireland (Lottie), London (Adora), Puerto Rico (books like Por Ahí Viene El Huracán and Ricitos de Onix), and Spain (Famosa), among others.
“We also have brands like Melissa and Doug, SpinMaster, Lego, Mattel, L.O.L Surprise!, Fisher Price, Little Tikes, Playmobil, Hatchimals, Hot Wheels and much more, “ said Ramos.
The young entrepreneur went on to comment on how she’s continuously upping the ante at her store.
“During the summer, we knew we had to do something to keep kids coming so we established a summer camp. We had over 100 children enroll during June and July 2019,” she stated.
In order to provide an invaluable experience, Ramos brought in occupational therapists, teachers and other professionals that she thought were essential to the further development of campers.
Ramos also mentioned how she changed the store’s décor so they could include a map of Puerto Rico which features all 78 municipalities.
“When people come in they immediately go to the map and look for their town; they take pictures, selfies. It has been a hit! It’s educational, fun and great for social media,” added the entrepreneur who assured THE WEEKLY JOURNAL that the shop has been visited by people from 74 of Puerto Rico’s municipalities.
Gloriana was quick to point out that Christmas is just around the corner and that, as such, kids should drop by and take a look at all the toys they can ask for in this year’s lists to Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men.
“El Mercado de Juguetes has everything that kids want this Christmas, at the best prices,” she stated.
El Mercado de Juguetes is located on the second floor of the Gloriana Building on state road 2, km. 96.8 in Barrio Cocos, Quebradillas. Their hours are from Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.