• 20201120-094255-news-bizbeat-toys1-102120

What do you do when you want to open a toy store as a pandemic hits?

You use the time improving the space to make it even more inviting to kids and adults alike.

Stephanie Spanier and Randy Miller of Conifer, along with their sons, Leo, 9, and Ike, 6, opened Critters Toys and Games in the Conifer Town Center a month ago, and business has been steady.

The store is a paradise for game fanatics, puzzle enthusiasts, stuffed-animal lovers, book devotees and more. The couple try to have something for everyone from infants to adults.

“Everybody needs a toy store,” Spanier said.

Especially with the pandemic, families are spending more time together, so the couple say they have games from the classics to the latest fads to help ease cabin fever.

“We have the classic games,” Miller said, “but people are surprised at the new things, too.”

Need a birthday present? Critters has it. Looking for crafts to keep the kids entertained? Critters has craft kits, too.

Miller explained that they were looking to open something in Conifer that kids would enjoy, and they thought about a movie theater or a bowling alley. Then reopening the toy store in the space between Safeway and A Borgata presented itself, and the rest is history.

Spanier is an accountant, and Miller has been the stay-at-home dad, so a toy store fits with their lifestyle.

The entire family loves games with Spanier admitting that her sons have been known to play games at breakfast.

“We can’t help it,” she said. “We have to test them. With all kids being different, we want to have something for everyone.”

Ike is drawn to Minecraft, while Leo is into LEGOs, adding that it’s like Christmas when the shipping boxes are dropped off at the store, and he helps open them. The boys also help show customers around the store.

The couple say the store is simply a place for people to have fun.

“This is a place where people can break away from everything they are dealing with,” Miller said. “This is a place for having fun and being happy. It’s a blessing to own the store. Making people happy means more to us than profits.”

Critters is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

New, yet familiar, salon opens in Lakepoint Center

Parkway Salon has morphed into Reflections A Salon.

Parkway Salon, which was near Boone Mountain Sports in Evergreen, has closed. The new salon in the Lakepoint Center near Evergreen Lake has been open about a month, with longtime hairdresser Lisa Sjoden and nail technician Roseann Rabus as the owners. It is in the former Family Salon space, which was vacated earlier this year.

Sjoden said the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. When two stylists at Parkway Salon were no longer able to work because of the virus, that compelled Sjoden and Rabus to consider other options, which is how the new salon was born.

With three hair stylists — soon to be four — and two nail technicians, the salon is following cleaning and social-distancing rules.

Sjoden said the salon is staffed by experienced professionals, all dedicated to the Evergreen community. She really enjoys her view of Evergreen Lake from the salon, an added plus in the new space.

For more information on the salon, call 303-674-7988.

Help with remote learning

As families navigate remote learning, sometimes they need a bit of help.

Enter Chad Ducklow, who has opened The Learning Center in Bergen Park to help kids with their virtual studies. The Learning Center is an offshoot of Success4Life, which Ducklow started five years to work with at-risk youth throughout Colorado.

“Three months ago, I had some community members reach out to me and ask if I was going to do something to help with virtual learning and additional support for the kids in the community,” Ducklow said. “I opened up The Learning Center on Bergen Parkway to really help with some of this virtual piece.”

The Learning Center offers tutoring and preparation for tests such as the ACT and SAT.

Students can get in-person or virtual support one-on-one from licensed teachers, he said.

For some students, it’s a matter of learning to organize and stay on top of assignments.

In general, time is available for elementary school-age children in the morning and middle-school/high school-age students in the afternoon, though evening tutoring also is available.

The Learning Center is at 1232 Bergen Parkway, Suite 103. For more information, visit www.success4lifetutoring.com.