On April 15, 2012, Vancouver made it onto the map, the Lego map that is. I had to visit.
The store opened up in Oakridge Centre at 41st and Cambie, conveniently located on the Canada Line. The mall has two anchor stores in The Bay and Safeway. As a Lego competitor, there is still a Zellers which will be come a Target in the next year or so. Otherwise the mall has a mix of stores, many specialty so the Lego store will fit right in. It couldn't have gotten a better place in the mall directly opposite the open kids play area.
The store is bright and nicely laid out. I was greeted as I walked in and encouraged to get a VIP membership (more on that later). I was also told about the 'Girl' Lego, but I'm not going to get started on that.
I think my head whipped around in every direction several times before I started at one corner and worked my way around the perimeter before moving in to the inner displays. It looks like they have a good selection from each of the current themes available and even some of the just 'bricks' sets. Each theme area had a display of a selection of sets put together giving you a better idea of what is in the boxes. There was a small selection of non-building set type of collectibles including watches, an alarm clock, mini-figure display cases and key chains.
The back wall had one of the features that will set the store apart from even the biggest toy store. It had a brick wall. This had domed filled drawers with just bricks. There were different styles and different colors. Some were fairly common bricks but in a less common color. Some were hard to come by bricks. For others, they may be common, but there may not be enough in a set to do everything you want. You get what looks like a cross between a giant frozen drink cup and a bucket and fill it up with what you want. If you bring the cup back for a refill, you get a discount. I saw many cups being filled and dumped and repacked in ways that make me think of Tetris to ensure that maximum space is used. I'm hoping that they rotate the stock periodically.
The next thing that set the Lego store apart from a 'regular' store is the custom mini-figure area. For 12.99 you get three totally custom built mini-figures in a special package made just for them. The possibilities are endless and there is nothing stopping you from mixing and matching themes of people. I poked around in here for a bit and will be back for sure. I think I would have made (at least) one three-pack but I foolishly went on a PD day and there were so many kids having fun that I didn't want to interfere (well, I wanted to but knew better).
There were a couple of small build areas with more than enough blocks to keep the kids at them busy. The staff member who was restocking the brick wall, would take the bricks that left the wall and didn't make it into cups and dump them into this play area. This was probably much more efficient than sorting those tiny pieces out. It also exposed the builders to some of the bricks from the wall that they may not have seen.
The Technic section and Duplo section were fairly small. The store overall wasn't huge, but it makes good use of its space. I suspect they will change the focus of their stock based on their business in the first few months.
Because the boys are still in the Duplo range, for this first visit, I limited my block purchase to that grouping. I bought one of the sets aimed at girls. It adds bricks of different colors to their collection. And they got a turret to boot. (They have already built a few castles since the set came home 2 days ago). And for myself, I think I showed really good restraint and only got a key chain. I will go back, both with and without the kids. When I bring the kids, I will be prepared to buy what they pick so it's likely it will be close to their birthday (less than 6 weeks away). As they get older and we go back again (and again, and again), it can be to add things to their Christmas and Birthday lists or to pick gifts for others.
While the store opened on April 15, the grand opening isn't until May 4. There will be a 3 day building extravaganza. I don't know if we'll go. I'd love to but would really need someone else to come with us. The boys are past the stroller stage but getting them there and back on transit plus in a crowd by myself may be a bit much. I will try though. You can find more details at Lego Grand Opening
Online and in store, you can sign up to be a Lego VIP. The membership will allow you to accumulate points and convert them to Lego savings. Of course I signed up.
I have a LOT of Lego. No one really understands how much until I show them. As they get older, it will go to the boys, starting with the bigger pieces and moving onward. I am so happy both love Lego (Duplo) so much. There isn't a day that goes by that it's not played with. As they start to use some of my Lego, we'll know more what their interests in it are (I have lots of basic bricks, city type sets and castle sets). And of course there will be new themes that come out and new brick styles that we will need to add. I can't wait.
If you love Lego or love a Lego lover, you will enjoy the Lego store.
This review was done by me. No on asked me to do it. I was not compensated in any way. I did it for my love of a product and a selfish hope that the specialty store that just opened up stays open for a very long time.