There’s perhaps nothing in your life that will ever get you as excited as when you a youngster with a toy trip trip on your schedule. Not even  the Giants winning the World Series twice in three years or scoring free VIP tickets to Outside Lands can come close to eliciting that brain-paralyzing gush of euphoria and innocent bliss.
But since you can’t quantum leap back to being eight (get on it science!), the Guardian can offer you the next best thing, and that is the upcoming National Toy Store Day on Sat/10.
In an effort coordinated by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association -- whose members include over 1400 locally-owned toy shops -- over 500 independent centers of child-like joy across our glorious nation will be participating in Toy Store Day.
In the Bay, The Ark , which has locations in Presidio Heights, Noe Valley, and Berkeley, is planning to go all out for the occasion. A veritable carnival will be taking place inside the stores -- there’s going to be prizes galore, an "I Spy" contest, and a meet-and-greet with several toy inventors (your mission: find out how to become a toy inventor.)
And definitely check out some of our other favorite independent toy stores: eternal Best of the Bay winner Jeffrey's , West Portal classic Growing Up , the Mission's rad place for organic, sustainably made gear Aldea Niños , and Clement Street action figure wonderland Heroes Club/Art of Toys . Should you need inspiration in your quest, totally-not-locally-owned Toys 'R Us has released its "Fabulous 15" list of top toys for 2012  (we suggest finding the off brand equivalents to avoid having your gift recipients' holiday hijacked by corporate advertising.)
Saturday! It's the perfect excuse to get your holiday shopping done early. Trust, you don't want to get caught up in the December crush: