There’s a Toy Story “Too” on Larchmont

Landis’ Labyrinth CEO Devoney Wolfus (l) with Sales Associate Alli Baldwin (r) are all smiles – but who wouldn’t be? – they get to play with toys all day.

Landis’ Labyrinth, the exceptional little store filled to the brim with toys and people who like to play, is expanding its operation to open an additional storefront at 144 N. Larchmont Blvd this fall, just three doors north of their current store.

Devoney Wolfus, daughter of Christine Wolfus of Landis General Store on the boulevard, is a natural salesperson and business woman who is creating a small empire of fun-filled shops at a time when small entrepreneurs are often going out of business. “I was running the register at Landis when I was nine years old,” Wolfus told the Buzz. In her teens she worked at Pumpkin Toys on Larchmont and always had a love for selling things that make people happy. In addition to the Larchmont operations, Wolfus also operates a Landis’ Labyrinth in Manhattan Beach.

The place is crawling with young, enthusiastic salesmen who KNOW their toys, including from left to right Drew Krassowsky, Hunter Elbourn and Jason Blagman.

Wolfus grew up on Las Palmas and now lives in the Larchmont Village area. She opened the Labyrinth quietly on January 18th, 2009, a Sunday morning in the middle of winter, and has had a steady stream of customers pour over the colorful merchandise ever since. Her success may be in part to the energetic young staff she employs who are willing to demonstrate the merchandise and offer gift suggestions for newborns to octogenarians. But it also may be because she and her staff stay on top of the latest and greatest toys, the unique and the retro. They also run a website sharing what’s hot in toys and the origins of some of history’s all-time favorites (did you know Play-Doh was invented as a wallpaper cleaner?)

Games are still some of the best sellers, as are Ugly Dolls, wooden toys and the revamped vintage toys and gag gifts that we know from the past. “It’s the customer’s toy shop, ” noted Wolfus. “We never know who will walk in and what they will want, and they usually don’t either. But they almost always walk out with something they’re delighted with.” She’s long kept an open list at the front desk where customers can jot down items they’d like her to stock.

Artist Bruce Tunis, known for his murals at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the El Capitain Theater, has created a fanciful tree house and puppet theater in the current store, and he’ll be engaged to create other creative spaces for the new store.

The expansion to an additional space at 144 N Larchmont means the Labyrinth will stock more sports items, more art supplies and projects, and children’s furniture. They are currently renovating the space where the ticket service  and travel office once stood, and will take out the central wall, level the floor and ceiling, and create a better office space. Wolfus told the Buzz that many years ago the location sold children’s clothing and that the central wall divided the space between one side for girls’ clothing and the other for boys.

 

 

Wolfus, 31, has a keen interest in keeping the tradition of independent shopkeeping alive and well on Larchmont. Her team expects to create a retrospective photo history of former businesses on Larchmont to share online and in the store, proving that the next generation of shopkeepers on Larchmont just may in fact “bring community back to Larchmont” as Wolfus hopes.

 

 

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About Julie Grist

Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

3 thoughts on “There’s a Toy Story “Too” on Larchmont

  1. How nice to read this story of a businesswoman who embraces Larchmont and adds to its charm, rather than fighting the long-standing traditions that make our Boulevard what it is and can be. (You know to whom I am referring…)
    Some of us have seen so many changes over fifty years, and we celebrate this kind of positive progress. We knew the old Landis probably couldn’t go on (much as we loved it!), and we do still miss Jurgensens, but Chris and Edie and now Devoney have only adde3d to our pleasures!
    Long may these Larchmont positive elements thrive!

  2. Great idea! The old Landis store sure was a part of our Larchmont history that’s for sure. Back in the day (1980’s for me) when the sidewalks there were practically rolled up on Sundays & Mondays. And banks out numbered coffee shops.

    >>> Her team expects to create a retrospective photo history of former businesses on Larchmont to share online and in the store, proving that the next generation of shopkeepers on Larchmont just may in fact “bring community back to Larchmont” as Wolfus hopes.

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