1) Engineer turned toy shop owner – that’s a bit of a
change, what led you to decide to take on Toys in the Park?
I think the stars have aligned over the past 6
months and conspired to get me to this position – any other time in my life and
it wouldn’t have happened! I was an Engineer / Project Manager for 14 years before
I was made redundant at the end of last year and happily had some time off over
the summer holidays to spend with our two boys. The plan was to spend this year
owner-building our house renovations and enjoying being at home with the boys
after a hectic 2014 of international work travel…
Quite unexpectedly, I received an email from Jan informing me that Toys in
the Park was up For Sale and offering me the business.
I’ve been a long time customer
of Jan’s – my eldest son was born about the time the shop first
opened and in those early days I spent many hours pacing up and down Albany
Highway doing what I could to get some fresh air and get out of the house with
a newborn. Toys in the Park was always a favourite stop along the way.
All of my
boys’ favourite toys (and mine!) are from the shop and they have all stood the
test of time, so it wasn’t a hard choice to start asking questions about the
opportunity. Luckily my husband, Jason, has been a fantastic support and
encouraged me to pursue not only a career change but a complete upheaval of our
2) Tell us a little about yourself – who is Lara Parsons?
I like to think of myself as a city girl with
country tendencies – Jason’s family are farmers near Mount Barker and we love
to get out of the city and spend time down there helping out. I’ve just
mastered the tractor and am not too bad at drenching sheep – there are too many
things that can go wrong on the header though, so I leave that to more
We used to be Victoria Park locals but a couple
years ago moved across to Kensington for a larger block. We’ve now got our
little corner of the country in the city – 3 chickens, 10 fruit trees, a yard
that the boys can enjoy running amuck in, and Dusty our rescue greyhound.
The inner engineering-geek will always be part of me
– I can’t help but get excited when I see all the science sets or construction toys
now available for girls (and boys) that I wish were around when I was younger.
like staying active so I’m very tempted to get myself one of the Micro Rocket
scooters and scoot to and from the store each day – watch out for some major
falls along George Street in the weeks to come!
3) What changes have you seen in Vic Park in the time
that you have lived in the area and what ‘vision’ have you got for this great
little Community of ours?
The strip has exploded in the past 8 or so years that we’ve lived in the area. When I get a night out, I am always pleasantly
surprised to see so many people enjoying and creating a vibrant evening
atmosphere along Albany Highway – even in the middle of the week (keeping in mind that with two little ones, a night out is not as common an occurrence as it used to be!).
The streetscape has improved in our time here,
particularly with the sculptures and public art. I love turning a corner and
finding a new installation on the side of a building or down a laneway – it
adds a bit of intrigue!
I would love the vibrancy to continue – more
independent retailers, more interesting cafes and restaurants – there are still
plenty of opportunities for new businesses and ideas.
4) The best part so far on your Toys In The Park journey?
I’ve been to a couple of Trade Fairs with Jan – they
involved very long and tiring days but I was excited to see all the new toys
being released. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but it was heartening to know
that all the toys I love are the ones that are already in stock or Jan has had
in store previously – we’re on the same wavelength!
5) Your vision?
My vision for Toys in the Park is to continue
providing you all with unique and quality educational toys. I aim to continue
Jan’s exemplary customer service (Yes! I will keep the free gift-wrapping) and
improve our presence in the online community – the Toys in the Park website
will be having a bit of a facelift soon and watch out for more activity on our
Facebook and Instagram (@toysinthepark) feeds!
6) Vic Park in 3 words…
Embracing Eclectic Community
* Make sure you call in to meet Lara at Toys In Park from Tuesday April 7th onwards – Welcome to the strip Lara!
403A Albany Highway, Victoria Park WA 6100
Ph: (08) 9470 3981