Jennifer Kaplinsky of Lantana already knew what was behind door No. 1. It was a global consulting firm, where she focused on the airline and travel industries for the past 25 years. She was a well-paid executive working 60-hour weeks and sleeping in hotel beds more than in her own.
The company offered Kaplinsky a generous buy-out package on her 25th anniversary, and she accepted.
“I’d missed a ton of family time with my husband, with my eight-year-old son, and my 13-year-old daughter over those 25 years,” she said. “Now, my mom is relocating close to us, and I didn’t want to miss time with her.”
The search for door No. 2 began.
“My husband is an artist, and our dream is to one day open an art gallery and gift shop in some beautiful tourist-type town. That won’t happen until our son is at least 18. But in the meantime, I decided to pursue the retail field as preparation,” Kaplinsky explained.
“Next, I decided a franchise was best because it comes with corporate training wheels for the learning process,” Kaplinsky continued. “Finally, I wanted something the community needed. I shopped, and I researched, and toys kept popping up. Two Learning Express locations were already in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, but they weren’t close to us. So, I invested in the franchise and located it in Highland Village.”
Established in 1987, Learning Express Toys is a franchised retail toy store concept. The overriding focus is on quality, educational toys and gifts for children of all ages.
Kaplinsky’s opening day was on Black Friday, 2020 — in the middle of a pandemic.
“People thought I was crazy,” Kaplinsky said. “But we followed all the COVID protocols. Also, it was an excellent time for things such as lease negotiations, and many people were anxious to get out and shop for Christmas. The result is I have been successful beyond my expectations during the past eight months.”
Kaplinsky views her Learning Express venture as an exciting puzzle.
“I just spent two weeks at Christmas market at the World Trade Center,” she said. “What were the best items for my store? How many of each should I buy? How would they look on the floor, and how would they display? What colors, shapes, and sizes of Fidgets (at the top of the popularity chart) should I order?
“One of my main goals is to not select items that are available at big-box stores. Our toys encourage learning and creativity over a broad range.
We have year-round gift wrapping and a birthday registry. So many people have thanked me for bringing the store to The Shops at Highland Village, and that makes me very happy.”
469.678.8227 | learningexpress.com/hvtx | 4081 Waller Crk., Ste. 150 • Highland Village, TX, 75077
photos courtesy of Learning Express