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Learning Express Toys opens on South Dale Mabry

Learning Express Toys held a grand opening at their new Carriage Trade Plaza location on April 7. Photo courtesy of Erika Stigleman.
Learning Express Toys held a grand opening at their new Carriage Trade Plaza location on April 7. Photo courtesy of Erika Stigleman.
Published Apr. 12, 2017

Just six months after retiring as principal from Gorrie Elementary School, Susan Foster re-entered the workforce.

Though the new position took her out of the classroom, she was still surrounded by children.

"My daughter, Erika Stigleman who was in pharmaceutical sales wanted to do something different so she bought a Learning Express Toys franchise," Foster said. "She needed help so I joined her. We're in our ninth year now."

The mother-daughter duo opened their first store in Sarasota.

When a franchise in Tampa became available they ran the two stores for a while until they decided to sell the Sarasota site and concentrate solely on South Tampa.

"My daughter grew up in Tampa so we know the area," Foster said.

They helped kids and families choose from the selection of toys at their Hyde Park Village location, which had a view of the fountain, until 2014 when construction began.

While almost all of Hyde Park Village was disrupted to undergo renovations, they moved into a temporary two year lease in Westshore.

On April 7, they celebrated the grand opening of their latest move to 1910 S Dale Mabry Highway in Carriage Trade Plaza.

"We're so excited to get back in the community and have our own little place," Foster said.

Peppa the Pig and Elmo made an appearance for the weekend-long grand opening event.

Even when not celebrating a grand opening, Foster and Stigleman always try to have some sort of activity going on like crafts and character visits.

"We try to always have something appealing, so kids can stop by and play," Foster said.

One thing they don't carry is electronics.

"Not including that kind of toy has been really welcoming," Foster said. "Customers will find good basic wooden toys, standard games and things that are important for imagination and hand-eye coordination."

For more information, call (813) 250-6200 or visit facebook.com/Learning-Express-Toys-South-Tampa-122949481157605.

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