Imagine growing up not just with a chest full of toys, but totally immersed in the land of play.That was the childhood of Jared Greenman, Funky Monkey Toys & Books owner. He is a fourth generation of “Toypreneurs,” along with his Dad, Stanley Greenman. Stanley’s father, and grandfather were all in the toy business, and his great uncle, Nat Greenman, is listed as #3 in the Toy Hall of Fame.
The Star Trading Company was originally founded by the Greenman family in 1931 as a wholesale company, with a small retail storefront on Ludlow Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Star Trading sold a variety of goods, including toys and housewares, from a small warehouse. In the mid-1940s, management was handed over to the second generation, Bernard, Nathan, and Sidney, and the company was renamed Greenman Brothers Inc. continuing to operate on a modest scale through the 1950s. Over the next four decades, Greenman Brothers Inc. thrived as a publicly traded company, selling across the United States.
The toy industry ebbed and flowed with the opening of big box stores and malls. In the 1990’s, they recognized an important void in the toy market. Educational and creative toys were only sold in specialty stores and did not have a broad distribution channel.
Choices for creative playthings, enriching books, better music, and imaginative software were limited and quality items were hard to find. What was needed was a large selection of well-priced, quality products for children, all under one roof. Greenman Brothers opened its first Noodle Kidoodle store in 1993 in Greenvale, New York. “Kids learn best when they’re having fun!”
Noodle Kidoodle would steer clear of the mass-marketed, television-inspired toys and offer what parents were looking for- a mix of creative and education-oriented toys, books, and computer software. Jared grew up in a toy store world. He definitely felt like a fortunate boy. “As a kid, I got all the cool new toys before anyone else. I got to go to the Toy Fair in NYC as a VIP. Jared’s mom was an architect, so he gravitated towards building toys like Lego and Lincoln logs. “It was an environment that helped spawn my imagination and creativity,” shares Greenman. He remembers a family road trip, brainstorming names for what eventually became Noodle Kidoodle. “We came up with all sorts of whacky names. A year later, I saw the big bright letters atop Dad’s new store, and I became obsessed with the notion of turning ideas into reality.” In 2000, the 60 Noodle Kidoodle stores across the country were acquired by Zany Brainy.
But Stanley Greenman wasn’t going to sit still. Once again, he recognized a niche in the toy market- a cool, hip, trendy, exciting neighborhood toy store experience. And where did this name come from? “We wanted to be cool and funky. We were eating Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream one day and said, ‘Aha! This it is! Funky Monkey!’” And so it began in Greenvale, Long Island 15 years ago. “We wanted to be fresh and different so we chose funky colors, like tangerine mango and lime, instead of the primary colors everyone else was using.”
Until you spread your wings, you have no idea how far you can fly Like father, like son, they are running the newly opened Funky Monkey in Greenwich. But some families believe their post-grad kids should have different real-life experiences instead of leaping right into a family business. After college, Jared started his career working in the NYC tech startup scene. “The first job I took was for a company that helped small businesses increase their online visibility. It was grueling work, and I got cursed out and hung up on more times than I can remember, but it was a valuable experience for me.” The company was acquired by Constant Contact and led Greenman to work for another service oriented tech company. “I dealt with some large companies including Victoria’s Secret and, ironically, Toys R Us.” All of his post-graduate work experience has taught him the value of the customer experience as well as the importance of treating people with honor and respect.
Following his entrepreneurial spirit, Jared has produced two independent feature films with one still in production, starring Molly Ringwald. He also ran an e-commerce business that was born from an Instagram account focused on “Nantucket v. Hamptons,” called @ackvhamps. Town & Country has featured the account: “This Instagram Account Perfectly Sums Up Nantucket and the Hamptons.” Hello, Greenwich! For Jared, toys are such an integral part of growing up in the family business, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to open Funky Monkey in Greenwich with his dad. “Kids love coming into our really fun, colorful toy store. They’ve never seen anything like this. I love seeing the look on the kids faces when they walk in,” Jared is proud to say.“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” -Willy Wonka
Jared and his father felt this is the right time to expand the 15-year Long Island Funky Monkey to Greenwich. “Greenwich is an extraordinary town unlike any other, and is supportive of local businesses. People are family-focused and parents are active with their kids,” Jared has noticed. “It’s been a great experience for us so far. It’s friendly and upbeat, and everyone has been very welcoming.” Greenman is committed to embracing his new home on the Avenue and the Greenwich community “by aligning with some family focused charitable organizations and planning fun interactive events. The Greenwich store is like my baby, so if you walk by our stretch of the Avenue, you might see me sweeping the sidewalk or washing the windows. Stop by and say what’s up!”
Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting, Saturday, October 26 at 10:00
While Funky Monkey had a soft opening at the end of the summer, their Grand Opening with a Ribbon-Cutting,” is Saturday, October 26 starting at 10:00 am. “There will be free treats all day with karaoke. Come on in and say hello,” invites Jared. Special Appearances by Elsa, Spiderman and our very own Funky Monkey. Ribbon Cutting at 10:00 am with Peter Tesei, Alex Bergstein, Jim Himes, Livvy Floren, and Peter Carlson from the Chamber of Commerce.
Questions? Call Funky Monkey: (203) 769-5884