This past week, in time for the holiday gift-giving season, Portland’s Hollywood District became home to a whole new take on the traditional toy store. Portland Pastimes, Portland’s newest toy and games shop at 42nd and NE Hancock, offers a mesmerizing supply of board games, puzzles and educational games, as well as a steady selection of activities for kids 13-years-old and up. Classic wooden toys, gag gifts, magic sets, yo-yos, murder mystery games, kites and even skateboards with helmets and pads are filling shelves at Portland Pastimes. The store also promises some surprises, too, like big wheel trikes for adults and retro reproduction green army men shaped as skaters, snowboarders and surfers.
“Kids age out of modern toy stores at about age six, which is why I want to focus more on games that bring people together to connect, grow, and have fun,” founder Dave Hillis said. “For example, when’s the last time you saw a magic counter at a store? Kids used to flock around those and they’re still interested in watching and performing magic tricks—stores just stopped devoting space to them. I’m here to bring the toy store magic back, so to speak.”
Hillis isn’t winging this adventure alone, however. His parents have been running hobby shop Mountain Pastimes in Nevada City, California for almost three decades. Now in his forties, Hillis can glean from years in the toyshop biz, as well as the guidance of his parents, who are known for their eye for high quality toys and games. One look at their Yelp page and you can see customers raving that the shop is the area go-to for games and intelligent entertainment.
Fun, play and games have been at the forefront of Hillis’ life; before becoming a husband and dad, he traveled the world as a competitive footbag athlete. Also because Hillis grew up in the toy industry, his knowledge of games is strong and he easily demonstrates how to play everything in stock. Hills, along with his wife Christi, a Portland area high school teacher, and other family members will man the store through the holiday season. Demos from reps will be scheduled at the store, and actual kids, in some cases Hillis’ daughter, will do customer reviews.
The Hollywood location was carefully chosen by the Hillises as customers in the area aren’t served by any independently-owned toy stores, and Dave hopes that Portland Pastimes will become the community go-to games store, like his parents’ shop has become.
“My parents will provide guidance, but really this store needs to speak to what makes Portland special and what growing up here is all about. We are well-read and creative in this town, and we crave play and connections with others. We’re also not afraid to go out and make these connections,” he said, and predicts his hosted game nights will be well attended.
The store has a gift wrap station so kids and adults will be able to put their special stamp on the gift they’re giving. Another cool thing about the store is an arcade-style two player video game equipped with PacMan, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Missile Command and Galaga, to name but a few of the old school selections keeping customers entertained for hours.