With launch of new store, Lisa and Nate Emmons expand their children recreation, service empire
OSWEGO — With the holiday season approaching, Curious Kidz opened its doors to Port City parents looking for a gift that offers “fun, imaginative and tactile” play.
The children’s toy store, owned by Lisa and Nathan Emmons and located at 52 W. Bridge St., features a variety of didactic and playful toys for children of all ages and is a longtime dream for a family of self-described “dreamers” who want to give back to their community.
“We will often drive through downtown (Oswego) and we’ll go ‘man, that would be a great space for retail,’” Lisa Emmons said, noting small businesses are integral to cities. “We are losing retail now, it is important for us to keep it around. For us, our store is the best thing we can do to give back to our community and to shop local is something we firmly believe in.”
The Emmons’ brought their belief to Oswego with Mother Earth Baby, also located on Bridge Street, which offers a variety of services for parents, including a cloth diaper change program that covers all of central New York.
“Over the years we expanded the toy selection (at Mother Earth Baby) and this year we got to a point where we were bursting at the seams in terms of space,” Nathan Emmons said, noting the need for extra space motivated the family to want to move as early as possible to be able to meet holiday shopping deadlines.
After holding several conversations with local developer Anthony Pauldine, who owns the building that hosts Curious Kidz, the Emmons family moved into the spot at 52 W. Bridge St. in late October, prompting a rapid turnaround.
“The first spots of paint went on the walls on Oct. 29,” Nathan Emmons said, adding the locale had been previously empty following a fire that ravaged the adjacent lot in May 2017. “No carpet, no nothing, it was a blank shell. By Nov. 9, we had the paint, carpet and we had to go through the permitting process to get our sign outside.”
Now with the store open, the family said they expect to offer a hub for parents to network and eventually offer instructional-type services similar to what they already offer with Mother Earth Baby.
“I think it is a very practical service we offer for families. It is supportive,” Lisa Emmons said. “We are a hub for folks when they have questions about parenting. We have been seen as a resource for ten years now and it is important for us to provide opportunities for our community to network. It is important for the community and for folks to find other folks who can be of support to one another. I just thoroughly enjoy it.”
Curious Kidz will also help develop the Port City as a tourist destination, according to Nathan Emmons.
“Where Oswego is moving to, it is a growing community,” Nathan Emmons said. “I think we would like to have more families move into town. We want them to move here and stay here, and the more businesses they see that are family-oriented, the more it starts to feel like a family-oriented destination.”
Family activity opportunities such as the newly-revamped Children’s Museum of Oswego County are “unique retail opportunities” found in tourist destinations.
“You go anywhere else and you are not finding these types of things,” Nathan Emmons said. “Why not have those here in Oswego? You come to Oswego and go to a children’s museum that you can’t find anywhere else, you can go to a fantastic toy store, you can get fantastic chocolates… these are things you may not find in the place you are coming from.”
For more information and store hours, visit motherearthbaby.com.