Mudpuddles at Kerrytown doubled its size in October by knocking down a wall and taking over the space next door. Stairs had to be added also—the floor next door was three feet higher. “That’s because the ceiling on the lower floor is three feet higher,” co-owner Jan Benzinger explains. The elevation change, she says, is working out well: “There’s always people standing around at both levels playing with things or reading or just sitting on the steps while their kids are playing.”
The stock hasn’t changed much. “We carry everything we carried before, but more of it,” Benzinger says. “For the holidays, we brought in a lot of science because we wanted things for older kids.” That includes telescopes, a build-it-¬yourself solar house kit, chemistry sets, and more: “We never had anything like that before.”
Mudpuddles moved into its present location in 2004 from its original space across the hall. But when it started out there in 1989, toys weren’t its focus, and Mudpuddles wasn’t the name—it was a nature store called Marsh and Fields. In 1994 the owners added a small section called Mudpuddles for Kids, and in 2001 they decided to ditch the nature stuff, change the name, and go totally toys.
Benzinger’s tenure at Kerrytown predates Marsh and Fields. “I’ve actually been in Kerrytown since 1980 in some form or another,” she says. “I’ve had three different stores at Kerrytown now.” Her first was FoxFarm Pottery, where she hired Sharon Plumley in 1985. They got along so well they opened Marsh and Fields as co-owners, and remain so at Mudpuddles. “We just eventually decided that kids are a lot cuter than adults and we decided to go with all kids,” Benzinger says. “It’s a fun business to be in.”
Mudpuddles, 407 North Fifth Avenue (Kerrytown Market & Shops), 662–0022. Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.