Sweet Success at On The Park
- Written by Madison Terrier
Turning a tragedy into a positive, loving experience is the root of one of Kingwood’s most unique businesses. From the support of the Kingwood community, Toys and Candy On the Park, owned by Fred Rosenberg and his wife, Karen, was created. In 1992, the Rosenbergs’ son, Mike, was killed in a car accident on Kingwood Drive involving a drunk driver. “The community was very supportive of me and my family,” said Rosenberg. “We wanted to do something to give back to them and to the children of the community. “We wanted to set good examples for children, with our acts rather than our words,” said Rosenberg. “We realized just how valuable children are, and we wanted to do something fun for them.” Toys and Candy On the Park is a 5,000-square-foot toy store with more than 9,000 varieties of toys to choose from. New this summer is a real soda fountain with more than 108 different flavors of soda that you can make into a float, including bacon and hot wing-flavored carbonated beverages. The store is located on Kingwood Drive, and at one time, it wasn’t the only of its kind. Rosenberg opened Toys and Candy On the Park in Kingwood in 1996, and shortly after, opened up two more- one in Uptown Park and one on the Kemah Boardwalk. When the stress and travel of operating three stores made Rosenberg’s job “not fun anymore,” he decided to sell two of his stores and focus on the one in Kingwood. What fills Rosenberg with pride is knowing that his customers, or his “friends” as he prefers to call them, will always find unique items and know that they are getting a fair deal when they shop at his business. “I am a big proponent of change,” said Rosenberg. “Unlike some toy stores that have 20 of the same item, I may only have three. My friends always come in the store and want to see what’s new.” Rosenberg says that the most important product that the store can have is a happy customer. He wants a big town store with a small town feel, just like when he was growing up and everyone knew exactly who you were. The atmosphere of Toys and Candy On the Park isn’t the only unique thing about Rosenberg’s business. In 2008, when the economy was down, Rosenberg tried something new and started paying the sales tax on all of his customers’ purchases. He had tried it on and off in the past and has kept it. “It just makes a whole lot of sense,” he said. “It’s really just a feel good thing,” said Rosenberg. “For me and my customers. People enjoy not paying sales tax more than getting a 10 percent discount. Plus, if a child comes in the store with their allowance, they don’t understand that their $5 item becomes $5.25 at the cash register.” Along with paying the sales tax, Rosenberg also gives $1 back for every $10 spent. The currency used in this exchange is called an “awesome buck,” a wooden token that can be saved and used at any time. “One of my favorite memories is when we first started using awesome bucks, I had a little boy come up to the counter with a $1 item and he slapped two awesome bucks on my counter. I said, ‘You only need one of those,’ and he held his hand up and said, ‘Keep the change.’ I guess he had seen his dad do that a few times.” Another special tradition at Toys and Candy On the Park are Santa’s visits every weekend from Thanksgiving until Christmas. The store has welcomed the same Santa back every year since it first opened. All of the profits from pictures with Santa go to needy families; No money is taken out for the equipment or to pay Santa, who has volunteered his time every year since the store first opened. Rosenberg said that on any given day there may be hundreds of people that come through his store, but he doesn’t measure the success of his store on how much money he makes. “I am not in the business for the money,” said Rosenberg. “I evaluate our store’s success by what people think about the store, if they appreciate and enjoy it.” Seeing the kids have a good time is his favorite part of his business. “The customers are our friends, and what other business can you be in where you’re always with your friends? What more can you ask for?” said Rosenberg. First Photo: Toys and Candy On the Park owner Fred Rosenberg poses in front of a wall of bright, colorful jellybeans and M&M’s candies. Second Photo: Several toy shelves are “stuffed” with animals large and small. Third Photo: Plenty of pretty pink items are also available at Toys and Candy On the Park.