If anyone knows how to do the holidays right in Darien, it’s Oakridge Hobbies & Toys.
The giant toy soldiers and forthcoming visit from Santa are evidence enough, but there’s also the endorsement of one very famous client: The White House.
Several years ago The White House asked Oakridge to supply all the miniatures that appeared in Christmas decorations featuring tiny versions of the presidents’ family homes.
So it was fitting that Oakridge celebrated its official ribbon cutting Thursday amid the kickoff to the holiday season.
Oakridge moved to Darien in March from Downers Grove, just across 75th Street from its new home in Chestnut Court.
In the months since the move, Sue Robb, who owns the store with her husband Terry, said the number of customers has grown exponentially.
“Because we’re visible on the end, people who never even knew us are coming in,” she said.
The store has been in business since 1987, building a reputation as a go-to source for slot cars, models and puzzles, as well as other high-quality toys and games.
The Robbs run the store with the help of two of their three sons. And even though that third son isn’t part of the family business yet, Terry said one day he wants to be. Sue and Terry also have a daughter with slightly different proclivities — she’s working toward her PhD in genetic engineering.
In addition to the brick and mortar shop, Oakridge also runs an extensive online business, which Terry Robb said has helped propel it to be one of the top three slot car dealers in the U.S.
The family works together each November to transform the store into a winter wonderland. Starting the day after Halloween, the Robbs began setting up Santa’s workshop in their new windows and stocked the shelves with their holiday inventory.
Oakridge is one of the few places in the suburbs that still creates elaborate animated window displays, Terry Robb said.
“The whole thing is just one big magic experience,” he said.
Kids will find a special treat at Oakridge on Dec. 3 and 4.
Santa Claus will arrive at the store via fire truck at 11 a.m. on Dec. 3 for a two-day visit. Families can bring their own cameras and take free pictures with Santa, who will be at Oakridge from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 3 and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4.
Terry Robb said he delights in seeing the joy a visit to Oakridge brings to its youngest customers.
“We always chuckle when the kids have to be picked up by their parents kicking and screaming (as they leave the store),” he said. “Then we know we did our job.”