“I don’t shop for a living. I WORK” volume 3

see volume 1 and volume 2


Ok, so this one isn’t in New York, but it is another one of my all time favorites. Allentown Toy is a carnival toy manufacturing company in Allentown, PA (I know, go figure).

Anyways, like the other businesses I’ve written about, Allentown Toy is staffed by people who are really enthusiastic about what they do. They really love their toys, love their jobs, and have creative solutions to problems.

The first time I dealt with them was on Paradise Park, at the Signature in 2007. Some images of the set to give you a sense of the show:

paradise park 1

so, thats when they’re all dancing to “Real Love” by Mary J Blige. Notice the Pooh-Bears in the corner, oh, and the bumper car.

paradise park 2

… and the pile of plush supermen toys

paradise park 3and the penguins top left, oh, and the bouncy castle being inflated and crushed against the ceiling.

So, that was Paradise Park. It was a pretty nuts show. I learned so much from that project (I was the assistant props master), and I think its a show that really changed how I think about scenery… It was amazing. This is besides the point. There was a lot of carnival crap in that play. The supermen were shipped to us, (theres a great story involving them going to the fireproofers and the guys going a little crazy from being in a room with that many superman toys), but the Pooh Bears, the Penguins and some other bears had to be picked up.

So, off I went in my boss’ Explorer to Allentown to get the stuffed animals.

The Allentown Toy office is a warehouse with a front office with thousands of samples hanging from the ceiling. Like THOUSANDS. So, theres normal-looking desks, filing cabinets etc and then riotous color from all the toys and inflatables and so on. The company is run and staffed by these lovely hippies. Which, honestly, was not what I expected at all. I think they all hang out in the rooms full of giant canival toys and smoke weed all day and thats why they’re so nice.

Anyways, we load up the explorer with the 250 stuffed animals, and I drive back to NYC in a car so jammed with animals that they are literally pressed up against the windows and piled in the passenger seat. Weirdest trip through the tunnel ever. The people at the theater laughed for the next few days after I pulled up in that state.

My most recent interaction with allentown was also pretty great. I did an opera at Montclair State University and I needed a 36″ inflatable baseball bat. And a squeaky hammer. And a giant heart shaped balloon (they didn’t have that, but had good suggestions about where to find one). They went way out of their way to sell me only one or two of each. Check it out!

la finta

Moral of the story? If you ever need carnival toys, these are the guys to go to. They’re awesome.



About meredithries

Meredith is a set designer living in Brooklyn, NY. See her work at: www.meredithries.com This is a repurposed old blog. Because continuity is important. Malaprop is a malapropism
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2 Responses to “I don’t shop for a living. I WORK” volume 3

  1. ETB says:

    My grandparents are from Easton, PA and Allentown is like the next town over. When I was in high-school, I went to this thrift store downtown a lot which I think is called Metropolis. Everytime I went I would see something else from Allentown, like kids t-shirts from Allentown Day School or vintage coats and dresses which had labels which said “Made by Hand by Such-and-such tailor in Allentown.” So one day I asked the guy behind the counter – “Hey, I notice you guys have a lot of stuff from Allentown. My family is from there so I go there all the the time – do you guys have some sweet thrifting hot-spot there?” And he looked down sort of abashedly and said, “Oh…no…there’s just this methadone clinic in Allentown that all of us go to…”

    So…that’s another thing about Allentown too.

  2. stephanie says:

    hey! i’m from allentown!

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