Kidding Around

November 2021 View more

By Kelly Aiglon

You’ll feel a sense of familiarity when you walk into Tinker ( Naperville’s newest children’s boutique radiates warmth, thanks to its wood tones and antique accents. But it’s the merchandise—which includes everything from classic toys to organic cotton basics—that really has a timeless feel.

“Everything here is intended to be an heirloom,” says owner Dani Spangler. “You shouldn’t have to toss your children’s items out after they outgrow them, but pass them on from sibling to sibling, and even generation to generation.”

Spangler might shrug off fast fashion and trends, but she does embrace a sense of discovery. From table to table, rack to rack, you can see, touch, and explore the goods—and also read the compelling stories of their makers by way of nicely framed descriptions. This is a store where you not only love what you’re buying, but learn about it along the way.

Carving a niche
pangler works with small makers across the world to source finely crafted pieces you can’t find in other area boutiques. Think: faux fur coats from Amsterdam brand Donsje, comfy tees and jumpsuits by Netherlands brand Phil & Phae, glitter-infused natural play dough from Land of Dough, and even handmade dolls made exclusively for the shop by an artist in London.

“I’d love this to be a place where, even if you don’t have kids, you can find something unique and of great quality,” says Spangler. “Grandparents, especially, can search around and imagine what their grandchildren might like.”

Many of the gift options are more than meets the eye. Wooden animal toys (shown, left) have hidden magnetic bases; attach them to mini boards with wheels and you’ve got an instant push toy. Nontoxic puzzles and play sets are also part of the mix, as is a curated selection of children’s books. “We are big readers at home, and all of my personal favorites are here,” says Spangler.

Family values
When Spangler went to law school, she certainly didn’t plan on opening a children’s boutique. But then she had two children and felt a desire to put her creativity to use. Opening a specialty shop in Naperville felt right for the market—and right for her family.

She plans to spark joy for the community around the holidays. That comes in the form of festive merchandise (plan those family pajama parties with colorful PJs, made to last snuggle after snuggle) or events that create shared memories (Santa will be visiting in December for storytelling and photos).

“No matter what brings you here, you’re going to discover something new. And hopefully feel some nostalgia, too,” says Spangler.

Photos by Megan Drane/Firefly Nights Photography