A feeling of lighthearted joy infuses downtown Camas’ latest business, Periwinkle’s Toy Shoppe, sending visitors down a memory lane filled with favorite stuffed animals, coveted figurines and treasured picture books.
And while the giant, purple, paper mache dragon floating from the ceiling helps build that joyful feeling, at the heart of the happiness is the Kesmodel family.
Owners Dave and Heather Kesmodel, along with their daughters, Kinder, 13, and Brooksley, 11, took Periwinkle’s from a spark of an idea to a full-fledged toy shop in just a few months.
“We signed the lease on Sept. 1, so we have had to just jump in,” Heather said of the family’s rapid push to open Periwinkle’s before the holiday shopping season.
The Kesmodels credited a small army of helpers for getting them past the finish line. There was the small business owner whose workload was already stretched to the limit but who still found time to help install the shop’s cash wrap counter. There was the artist who took Dave’s “Periwinkle the dragon” drawings and crafted the shop’s sculptural showstopper. And then there were the friends and family members who volunteered their time to help paint, prep, organize and publicize the new toy shop.
The Downtown Camas Association (DCA) held a ribbon-cutting event for Periwinkle’s during the November First Friday, and by the time the DCA’s November Third Thursday rolled around, the toy shop was already on most downtown Camas shoppers’ must-visit list.
“We’re humbled by the support,” Heather said. “We’ve always tried to ‘shop small’ and ‘shop local,’ but it’s much different when you own your own small business.”
Dave, who will be the main face of Periwinkle’s during the week, said he still can’t believe he gets to spend his days surrounded by toys.
“I’m just a big kid, so I’m having so much fun,” Dave said as he pointed out some of his favorite toys: the chess game designed for young children, a stuffed Bigfoot holding a small tin of “Bigfoot poo” and, of course, the overflowing bin in the center of the store that contains his own daughters’ favorite toys — stuffed animals, more commonly known as “stuffies” inside the Kesmodel family.
When his company downsized at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dave said he didn’t know exactly what his next step might be. He and Heather — a fourth-generation Camasonian whose great-grandparents founded the former One-Stop Shopping Center on Third Avenue in downtown Camas — had always talked about opening a small business, maybe a wine shop or pizza place, in the city’s historic downtown, but hadn’t considered opening a retail shop until very recently.
Once the idea of Periwinkle’s took hold, however, Dave threw himself into the project — heading to a toy retailer convention in the Midwest to search for unique inventory and connecting with other toy shop owners across the country.
The other Kesmodels have matched Dave’s enthusiasm, helping stock the store with plush stuffed animals from the Manhattan Toy Company and Douglas Cuddle Toys; finding baby clothes, infant toys and swaddle blankets for the shop’s newborn section; procuring their favorite Playmobil sets and Breyer horse models; and compiling a vast selection of books for toddlers, children and young adults to create Periwinkle’s book nook.
The youngest Kesmodels — both students at Camas’ Odyssey Middle School — take turns choosing a “book of the month” for the toy shop. Brooksley chose Washington state author Dan Gemeinhart’s book, “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise,” for the November book of the month. In December, the toy shop will highlight Kinder’s pick: “The Nocturnals,” a middle-school chapter book series featuring the adventures of what author Tracey Hecht has described as “three unlikely friends — Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin, and Bismark, the pint-sized sugar glider.”
Now that Periwinkle’s is up and running, the Kesmodels are already plotting how they might improve the shop. There are plans to make the reading corner cozier for children and parents and — after COVID cases drop and some of the pandemic’s social-distancing and masking rules lift — hopes of having an interactive space where children can play with toys inside the shop.
Already, the toy shop owners have started to give back to their Camas community, collecting toys throughout the holiday season to donate to Camas-Washougal families in need.
“This is just the beginning,” Dave said. “There’s so much more we want to do.”
Periwinkle’s Toy Shoppe is located at 326 N.E. Cedar St., in downtown Camas, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The shop is closed on Monday and Tuesday. For more information, visit periwinklestoyshoppe.com.
Downtown Camas shops kick off holiday season this weekend
Periwinkle’s Toy Shoppe and other downtown Camas merchants will kick off the 2021 winter holiday shopping season this weekend with events designed to encourage holiday shoppers to spend their dollars on locally owned and operated businesses.
The DCA will host Little Box Friday on Friday, Nov. 26, following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Nov. 25.
Described as “a fun way to celebrate shopping local,” the DCA’s Little Box Friday event encourages businesses throughout downtown Camas to offer coupons, gifts and discounts and will feature drawings for a holiday gift basket and (for shoppers who spend at least $100 at downtown Camas businesses on Friday, Nov. 26) five “Camas cash” coupons worth $100 to spend at participating businesses.
The DCA’s annual “Golden Ticket” event also is back on this year, with shoppers earning a “golden ticket” with each purchase made at participating shops Friday, Nov. 26 through Friday, Dec. 17. The golden tickets are entered into a raffle at each participating store for a chance to win prizes worth at least $50, as well as a grand prize downtown Camas shopping spree.
On Saturday, Dec. 27, the DCA and the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce will join in the nationwide Shop Small Saturday business event to encourage shopping at local small businesses this holiday season. Merchants throughout downtown Camas will have special Shop Small promotions throughout the day, and DCA “elves” will be giving out holiday goodies and “Camas cash” to spend at participating merchants.
For more information about the Little Box Friday, Golden Ticket or Shop Small Saturday events in downtown Camas, visit the DCA’s website at downtowncamas.com.