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Naper Wow Pow: Learning Express birthday buckets

At Learning Express, a toy store in south Naperville, birthday buckets serve as a hands-on birthday registry. Each of the up to 48 buckets is hand decorated by the employees, and the Neuqua High School special needs class comes in weekly to help clean out the "expired" buckets, explains franchise owner Steve Zdunek. |  Daina Saleh~Sun-Times Media
Steve Zdunek, franchise owner of the Learning Express in south Naperville, shows off some personalized storage containers ordered by customers of this toy store with a focus on educational entertainment. |  Daina Saleh~Sun-Times Media

When they said “keep it simple,” the Learning Express took the advice to heart. The toy store makes finding the perfect birthday gift easy. Introducing: The Birthday Bucket.

At Learning Express, which focuses on educational play, children choose buckets and buckets of toys chosen by the birthday child.

“This is so much fun for the kids, almost like a Christmas wishlist,” says franchise owner Steve Zdunek of Learning Express, 2863 W. 95th St. And it takes the mystery out of birthday gift giving.

About two or three weeks before a party, the birthday girl or boy can roam through the store choosing from a wide selection of mostly educational, but always fun toys, at Learning Express.

The store, which has been around for almost 15 years, makes the buckets available to birthday guests.

“There is less of a chance for a duplicate present, too, because once it’s out of the box, the selection goes down,” Zdunek explains.

Even clueless shoppers can use the buckets to get an idea of what, let’s say, a 5-year-old girl would be interested in by peeking into the birthday bucket labeled for that age group.

It’s an overall hands-on process, and it’s fun, says Zdunek, who, after a long career in the corporate world, retired and opened Learning Express in Naperville.

“It’s such a great location, Naperville, and the interest in good quality toys is here,” adds Zdunek, who was getting ready for another toy convention — always on the hunt for trends and ideas.

Call 630-922-334, visit the store or www.learningexpress.com for more inspirational ideas. The store offers personalizations of items, and toy demonstrations and craft classes.

Share your product with the community by emailing Daina Saleh at dainasunbiz@gmail.com

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