Six customers came into Danielle Hoffman’s new toy store, Wheezy’s Toy Boutique, on Saturday with the same mission: to find a child’s birthday gift on the day of the party.
It was the exact purpose Hoffman intended for the newest store in Vickery Village. Hoffman and her husband have five kids in their blended family, and so there is always a birthday party to plan or attend. Buying the perfect gift can be just another item on an already-packed to-do list for parents.
“We want you to be able to walk in [and] talk to me,” Hoffman said. “I can tell you about a gift, you get it, I wrap it for you, you go to the birthday party.”
And not just any gift. At Wheezy’s, customers will find a unique selection, items that are not likely to be found at big box retail stores, Hoffman said.
“A lot of the stuff we carry you probably don’t already have,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman’s family inspires much of the selection. Their 3-year-old daughter struggles sometimes to do the crafts their 9-year-old enjoys — as hard she tries — so there is a selection fit for that younger age group. Their family values outdoor time, so there are plenty of items to use outside. They have a pre-teen, so there is a selection of items for the VSCO girl market, like stickers and water bottles and friendship bracelet makers.
Family also inspired the store name. Wheezy is the self-appointed nickname for Hoffman's 3-year-old daughter, Eloise.
“She is Wheezy,” Hoffman said. “She’s fun and playful and sassy and hilarious. It just kind of stuck.”
Hoffman had dreams of opening a small, specialty toy store with a family-owned touch ever since she worked in one while in high school. When Hoffman and her husband moved to Milton from Texas two years ago, she waited until family life felt settled. They were also picky about the store’s potential location.
Last year, they found Vickery Village. They bought frozen yogurt at The Chill Hill and watched kids playing and families mingling and were convinced it was the right place for a toy store.
“I said, this is it,” Hoffman said. “This is where we’re supposed to be.”
They closed on a space in the fall, at 5806 N Vickery in Suite J12, and set a date to open in April.
When the coronavirus pandemic reached Georgia, Hoffman became less certain about opening. She worried opening would be “tone-deaf” to the hurt and tumult many have experienced from the virus.
“We’re definitely not,” Hoffman said. “There’s a lot of sadness in what’s going on.”
But Hoffman had another thought: maybe Wheezy’s could be a small antidote to the sadness in current affairs.
“I kept saying to my husband, maybe this is what our community needs after all this,” Hoffman said, “this rainbow after all the rain.”
In fact, as Hoffman and her husband built out the space, they saw their massive, seven-section cabinet display and decided to paint it in the colors of the rainbow. Although Eloise lobbied to replace indigo with pink.
“She won on that one,” Hoffman said.
So Hoffman weathered some challenges with getting inventory, and adjusted some of her operations to abide by social distancing guidelines (she wore a rainbow-colored face mask this past weekend), and Wheezy’s Toy Boutique opened on Friday, May 15.
The early feedback from customers was positive, Hoffman said.
“They were like, this is just so great,” Hoffman said. “This is what we needed. We're so excited you're here.”
After an exhausting weekend, Hoffman was excited Wheezy’s is now there for Forsyth County families, too.
“We just want to be your neighborhood little toy store,” Hoffman said.