The toy aisles of big box stores are crammed with so many action figures, cars, and guns, that it feels a bit silly to consider little boys neglected by retailers. But while LEGO and sports stores might veer heavy on “boy,” and even the Easy Bake Oven now comes in masculine black and silver, there’s really no branded retail experience for boys that rivals American Girl.
That resonated with Jay and Maria Asplin, parents to five boys ages 4 to 16. They wanted their boys to know what it was like to be a kid before Game Boy and iPod Touch—back when boys spent lazy afternoons digging in the dirt, building forts, and catching snakes. Reconnecting with a traditional, Norman Rockwell-style American boyhood is the mission of JM Cremp’s Boys Adventure Store, based in Dassel, Minn. It started as a catalogue and online business four years ago, and grew into a bricks-and-mortar store in Dassel, a small town about an hour west of the Twin Cities. The company developed a big enough following that shoppers from St. Cloud and the west metro will trek to Dassel.
But this week, JM Cremp will experience a whole new level of exposure when it opens a holiday store at Mall of America. While it is intended to be temporary—just for the holiday season—the Asplins are taking care to build a full JM Cremp’s experience at MOA, with a woodsy setting and an in-store treehouse. Products range from scouting tools to hunting and fishing gear to knights and cowboys and science kits. All things you could buy elsewhere, but probably not under one roof. “No other store in the country is focusing on boys (3 to 14) in the same way we are,” Jay Asplin says. “This is boy heaven.”
See for yourself when the JM Cremp’s store opens at Mall of America, second floor, north side. The soft opening could happen as early as this week; the official opening is Nov. 15.
For more Mall of America shopping tips, visit my Ali Shops MOA mobile guide at moa.alishops.com.