As the second generation of imagination advocates behind Terra Toys, Sylvia Allsup-Edwards is ensuring Austin kids have access to play—and learning—for generations to come.
By Sylvia Allsup-Edwards, Photo courtesy of Sylvia Allsup-Edwards
One of my personal heroes, Fred Rogers, said, “Play is the work of childhood.” And when I think back on my own childhood, I laugh because, to Mister Rogers’ standards, I worked really hard.
My life since birth was spent in a toy store—literally. A midwife was hired and I was born in our home, the back of Terra Toys. Growing up, every night, I would kiss the teddy bears goodnight. And every day, I was that little kid who would hit up customers for 5 cents for a gum ball. My life was (and still is) filled with toys and play.
My parents—founders, philosophers, poets and toy makers—truly gave me the best childhood anyone could ask for. But one thing I realize as I look back on my early years is how many of my successes later in life can be attributed to a childhood filled with time to play. Childhood is, in every way, preparation for adulthood.
“People often think of play as a relief from serious learning,” Mister Rogers said, “but play enhances every person’s ability to engage socially, spatially, logically with the physical world in a safe and constructive way.”
Terra Toys is a business centered around play. Our work involves finding and carrying the best toys that make play not only pure and successful, but that also create an instrumental tool for the tenets of all aspects of life. Because of the consistent commitment to this goal, Terra Toys has flourished for four decades.
As Terra Toys achieves its 40th year in business, I embark on becoming the second generation behind a family-owned operation. My parents are passing the torch, and I can’t express the gratitude I have for being given a chance at continuing the family business. There will be many struggles in taking over, but all of them are small when compared with the bigger mission to enhance the lives of children.
Terra Toys will forever be a source for the classic, beautiful toys that encourage quality play and creativity, but my next steps as owner will also be to spread the philosophy of the importance of play. My main goals are to continue to offer this beautiful venue and magical experience to as many generations as I can, as well as transmit the ideas behind constructive play.
To be an Austin woman not only means to contribute to Austin in a way larger than myself, but also to recognize the framework that allows me to live my dream. Terra Toys would be nothing without my team of fellow Austin women, starting, of course, with my mother, Romalda, the founder. She is a fearless and driven role model and selflessly dedicated her entire life to the founding and building of this amazing company. Fellow managers like Dominique, Anna and Christian are powerful women who share the vision and have a dedication that is tangible when you walk into the toy store.
Terra Toys is a part of Austin’s DNA, and it is because of customer support and recognition that Terra Toys has been able to stay alive for so many years. Terra Toys celebrates its 40th birthday this year, and we thank our fellow strong women and Austinites for their continued support. Happy birthday to Terra Toys!