Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with an associate at The Play Store on University Ave in Palo Alto. She was very gracious about letting me take pictures, and answered all sorts of questions about their stock and play philosophy.
The Play Store is a small independent toy store for children of all ages. It is unique in that it almost exclusively sells natural, wooden, and/or organic toys and accessories. I was also told they don't buy from any one particular region (though European toys seemed to have a heavy influence). Instead they specifically chose items based on child-centered functionality, and quality. The Play Store has a Waldorf inspired methodology regarding their beliefs about play and learning, and also believe that toys should be made to grow with a child (not ceasing to be useful after a certain age).
The associate also emphasized that safety was very important to them, and they did not purchase from countries known to have toxins in their paints. In fact, they try to veer away from paints all together, and mostly stock items that have been naturally dyed. And on top of all these great perks, they store has a conscience, too! They only purchase from companies and sources that treat workers fairly, and are environmentally friendly.
The store itself is very child-friendly, too. They have a wooden train table set up with a simple assortment of Plan City and wooden train pieces. Alexander spent much of his time playing there while I took some photos of the rest of the space...