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SATURDAY: Let’s Play! Meet Local Toy Inventors at the Incredible Toy Company

Story and Photos by Jessica Isaacs | jessica@highcountrypress.com

Did you know that Boone is home to the inventors of some really cool toys? Their products are sold in toy stores nationwide, and they’ll be on hand at the High Country’s own Incredible Toy Company this Saturday to celebrate national Neighborhood Toy Store Day.

Store owner Kathleen Rowell (right) is pictured with employee Liz Cornella at the Incredible Toy Company.
Store owner Kathleen Rowell (right) is pictured with employee Liz Cornella at the Incredible Toy Company.

The day is observed in specialty shops across the country every year and is an initiative of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.

“It’s just a day to try to get people to go to local little toy stores and celebrating with games and things,” said Kathleen Rowell, owner of the Incredible Toy Company on Blowing Rock Road. “We are very unique because we’ve got two toy inventors in town and we carry their toys here.”

Along with a vast array of toys and games for all ages, Rowell’s store features “Joinks,” a construction game created by Appalachian State University professor Richard Elaver, and “Box & Bolls,” a new trick shot play set created by local police officer Noah Gordon and his son, Noah Gordon II.

Both “Joinks” and “Box & Balls” are carried by Fat Brain Toy Co.

Elaver, Gordon and Melanie Greene, author of the book Goodnight Boone, will interact with the community during Saturday morning festivities as they talk about the toys they have created, as well as the process of inventing and selling an idea, and demonstrating how their products work with kids and shoppers.

The Incredible Toy Company
The Incredible Toy Company

“We’ve got a bunch of giveaways and I will have a little art table for them to do a craft and make a little putty. From 10 to 12, these three are going to be here demonstrating toys and telling about how they invented them,” Rowell said. “Everyone will enjoy seeing somebody that actually invented the toy and seeing that it went all the way to being on the commercial shelves. All of us have ideas. ‘Oh, you know, I could make money if I did this.’ But how many of us actually do it? These people actually did it and brought their dream to the actual shelves.”

ASTRA’s Neighborhood Toy Store Day is also a great reminder for local consumers to frequent small businesses in their communities as they do their holiday shopping.

“It goes along with Shop Local. It’s just to make people aware that there are small, independent toy stores and we’re all over the country,” said Rowell. “It’s to make people aware that small businesses are your neighbors. It’s important, especially before Christmas, for people to understand to go to the neighborhood stores and not just the Big Box.”

Rowell established the Incredible Toy Company in 1993, when her children were small and there were no local options for toy shopping in the High Country, and it’s been family owned ever since.

Continue reading to learn more about the products invented by these local toy makers.

To learn more about Neighborhood Toy Store Day, call the store at 828-264-1422 or visit incredibletoycompany.com.


The Incredible Toy Company is located at 3411 U.S. Highway 321 S in Blowing Rock.

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sundays: 1-5 p.m.

Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.



“Box and Balls” (Ages 5+)

Created by Nathan Gordon

“Can you train the bouncy balls to bounce, and bank, and dunk themselves into the target boxes? Whatever your skill level, you can create your own obstacle course to hone your skills. Customize the challenge by size and number of bouncer boxes any way you want! Eight nested wooden boxes are numbered and decrease in size. Use the number to determine the point value of your shots — this means the smaller the target, the bigger the pay-off! Follow the suggested games printed on each box or create your own. Enhance your motor skills, creative thinking and problem solving through infinite play possibilities as you become the bouncy ball master!” (Fat Brain Toy Co. 2016 catalog)


“Joinks” (Ages 3+)

Created by Richard Elaver

“Flex your  building muscles as you bend the rules of construction with Joinks! The flexible connectors and wooden dowels add bounce, wiggle and movement to your creative structures. Colorful, chunky and super flexible, Joinks connectors are made from 100 percent silicone. Use the suction cups to secure your builds to tables, windows and almost any flat surface. Easy enough for a toddler but complex enough for a chemist! Includes 76 pieces.” (Fat Brain Toy Co. 2016 catalog)



Goodnight Boone

Written by Melanie Greene, Michelle Bolick and Blair Proffit

Illustrated by Susan Marlowe

“A children’s book for all ages, Goodnight Boone captures the history, culture, and traditions of the beautiful town of Boone, North Carolina.” (Amazon.com)




More things to see, do and shop at the Incredible Toy Company: