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Made in America: Channel Craft Toys


rootbeer-floatI had the great pleasure of going on a recent product buying trip to America’s Mart in Atlanta with Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s VP.  It was eye-opening to see the floors and floors of showrooms and showrooms, and, while I had fun giving my opinion and picking out garden and Christmas goodies (look for brass thermometers and copper rain chains in spring and woven wooden star ornaments this winter), hands-down my favorite place was the Channel Craft toy showroom.

I know toys may not seem to fit a garden center’s oeuvre, but Stephanie believes that encouraging children to play and experience wonder is the first step to encouraging a new generation of gardeners (plus, as a somewhat recent induction to the guild of grandmotherhood, she’s a little baby crazy).

As a small, independent retailer, we want to set ourselves apart from big box stores, so we strive to bring you quality products that you can’t get everywhere else.  And that’s exactly what Channel Craft is.  Made in Pennsylvania by skilled craftsmen and women for over 30 years, these educational and entertaining toys, games and puzzles will give you and your children hours of fun. You can even take them outside into the yard — no electricity required!

At the showroom, I got to speak with the founder of the company who had an infectious passion for these games and was only too happy to demonstrate his juggling sticks, ring toss game and Flippin’ Birds game.  The toys and games are simple in concept, but entertaining nonetheless.  I can honestly say that I had a great time playing with them and was loath to return to the reality of adulthood.

And yes, they had root beer on tap, vanilla ice cream and frosty glass mugs for a root beer float, which I enjoyed heartily at the wooden bar in their showroom.  Maybe it was that or playing with the creative toys, but I felt like a kid again and isn’t it that joyous simplicity that we seek in our gardens?

The next time you’re at Behnke’s, stop by our toy section to see these marvels.  We have some out to play with, perfect if you’re bringing your children and even if you’re not.


by Adrienne Neff, Behnke’s Graphics Department

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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