It's been a busy month for the owners of A Sea of Learning, a store that caters to teachers and parents with educational toys and supplies in Durham.
Teachers at schools and child care centers, the store's main customers, have seen their budgets slashed. And that has meant fewer sales for the store. So owners decided to merge its two stores - one near The Streets at Southpoint and another in Northgate Mall - into a larger space at Northgate.
The new store at Northgate opened last Saturday. And on Monday, it will play host to a Martin Luther King Day event sponsored by a collection of local moms groups in the area. Check the earlier post for more about the event, which includes stories, crafts and a birthday celebration.
Terri Morley, one of the store's owners, hopes the move will be the start of better times for the store. She's had plenty of experience in the parent teacher store business.
A Sea of Learning's owners also own another popular store in Morehead City called Teacher's Pet, which opened 22 years ago. The store gets lots of shoppers from the Triangle, who stop by during trips to the beach. And over the years they've asked them to open up a similar store here, Morley tells me.
A Sea of Learning originally opened at the Renaissance Center near Southpoint in 2007. The original Northgate store opened in August.
On Thursday when I was there, they were just about moved in (and ready for business) to the new space at Northgate Mall. The shelves were lined with toys from such manufacturers as Melissa & Doug, Usborne Books and Learning Resources, most geared for kids ages 0 to 12. A small toy table was ready for kids to play with while moms shopped.
They were waiting for their 200-gallon aquarium, which was popular with kids who wanted to spot Nemo. And they were making plans to start up their weekly storytimes next month. The 30-minute storytimes, led by employee Dana Payne, include a story, songs, a nice craft and finger play. Payne creates her own line of felt stories, which you can buy at the store.
Morley said she's excited to now call Northgate their only home. The mall already caters to kids with its carousel, train and moon bounce, among other amenities. In addition to the storytimes, Morley said she plans to bring other special events to the mall as well.
Morley said all the employees hold teacher's certificates, which can come in handy when a shopper comes in and needs help selecting an age appropriate toy. A Sea of Learning also offers tutoring in a space in the back of the store for preschoolers to high schoolers for $35 an hour.
For more on the store, watch my video interview with Morley. And check A Sea of Learning's website to learn more about the store.